While we were in Cinque Terre, we wanted to buy some food related souvenirs for friends and family. Cinque Terre is known for, among other things, olive oil.
At one store, whose name escapes me, we asked the owner what her favorite bottle was. She took us over to the olive oil shelf and started pulling out a couple bottles that she liked. She explained to us that one quality indicator to look for was a DOC seal.
The DOC seal stands for Denominazione di origine controllata and is the “Appellation” system for Italy. It’s part of the European Union’s Protected Geographical Status (PGS) framework for authenticity of particular products.
The framework is designed to help consumers know how authentic a product is. For example, Gorgonzola is a protected name and in order to be named Gorgonzola it has to be actually made in Gorgonzola, Italy. There are three different types of seals and each means a slightly different thing.
Here are the other seals:
You can read more about these systems on Wikipedia.
In France, the system is called Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). In Portugal, it’s called the Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC). In Spain, it’s called Denominación de Origen (DO).