The expression “Neapolitan pizza” finally protected

On December 18, 2022 the new Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 2022/2313 came into force through which the European Commission officially included “Pizza Napoletana” in the register of “Traditional Specialities Guaranteed” (TSGs).

Therefore, from that date, the expression “Neapolitan pizza” may be used only to distinguish products that exactly comply with the characteristics of preparation defined in the official document approved by the Commission (so-called Disciplinary Regulations) upon proposal of AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) and APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani).

The fact that Neapolitan Pizza is a Guaranteed Traditional Specialty is certainly not news.

Neapolitan pizza has, in fact, been on the TSG register since 2010 without reservation of the name, with the consequence that until new Regulation came into force anyone could use the expression “Neapolitan pizza” to distinguish the famous traditional Italian dish but could not affix the acronym "TSG" to it.

However, the above Regulation introduces new rules requiring, in particular, that in order to use the expression “Neapolitan pizza” the Disciplinary requirements must be met, with the consequence that, in their absence, pizza can no longer be identified and named on restaurant menus or on restaurant signs as “Neapolitan”, under application of a penalty, as well as, clearly, the prohibition of use of the expression.

But what exactly is TSG certification for?

In this regard, reference should first be made to the discipline of TSG certifications contained in Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012, which generally concerns quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs.

The quality regime is guaranteed by three European certifications (P.D.O., P.G.I., TSG), which can be attributed to food products or preparations with certain characteristics related to the territory.


The objectives of "TSG" Certification

This Regulation aims to safeguard traditional production methods and recipes by helping producers communicate the characteristics and production methods of these products to buyers, also in order guarantee transparency of information and fair competition among producers.

For example, consider the hypothesis in which a consumer intends to buy a pizza (or any other typical product): the latter might be attracted by a slogan bearing the expression “the real Neapolitan pizza”.

Such an expression could therefore cause confusion among the consumers and consequently unfairly favor one business over another when used in the absence of the requirements for TSG-certified “true Neapolitan pizza”.

Thus, the purpose of certification is to safeguard producers and guarantee market balance.


The requirements for TSG protection and the “Disciplinary Regulation” of Neapolitan pizza

A name can be registered as a TSG if it designates a product made by a production method that corresponds to a traditional practice and/or if it is made from traditionally used raw materials or ingredients (Art. 18).

In order to obtain registration, a so-called “Disciplinary Regulation” must be presented and, according to Article 19, must indicate the following information:

  1. the name whose registration is requested (in our case, in fact, “Neapolitan pizza”);
  2. the description of the product, including the main physical and chemical characteristics, demonstrating the specificity of the product;
  3. the basic elements attesting its traditional character.

The requirements for Neapolitan TSG pizza are, as it is obvious, about the raw materials, shape and flavor, as well as dough and baking.

As for the raw materials they are wheat flour, brewer's yeast, drinkable natural water, peeled and/or fresh tomatoes, sea salt or table salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Other ingredients that may be on the list are: garlic and oregano, Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania PDO, fresh basil and Mozzarella TSG.

However, it is not only the ingredients that identify the product.

In fact, the Disciplinary Regulation requires that the shape must be "wavy," the diameter must not exceed 35 cm, and the raised edge must not exceed 2 cm in height.

Other requirements, however, concern texture, states that the dough should be soft, elastic and not sticky, and flavor, which should be "savory" and mixed with the typical acidity of tomato and cooked mozzarella.

As for leavening, it must be two hours in the first stage and, after the formation of the buns, another 4-6 hours. With reference to baking, on the other hand, the pizza maker must use a wooden shovel and use only wood-fired ovens at 485° and the time must not exceed 60-90 seconds.



Thanks to the registration in the SGT registry, it is now possible to prohibit the use of the expression “Neapolitan pizza” by anyone who does not make pizzas according to the rules of the aforementioned Disciplinary Regulation, with penalties (including heavy ones) imposed on violators.

This could lead to the (almost paradoxical) consequence that many of Naples' historic pizzerias may be forced to remove the designation "Neapolitan pizza" from their signs and menus.

In light of the new regulation, therefore, all Italian (and even Italian abroad) pizza makers and restaurants will have to pay special attention to how they identify their pizzas and their business in order to avoid the penalties under the regulations in case of violation.

That’s not enough. Another aspect that needs special attention is intellectual property rights.

In particular, in the process of registering a trademark, it is necessary, not only that a mark does not infringe earlier identical and/or similar trademarks, but also with all terms that have TSG (or PDO, PGI) certification, such as the name "Neapolitan Pizza”.

Although such new regulation implies many limitations for all subjects who have never adapted their product to the traditional characteristics of Neapolitan pizza, we believe that the new Regulation is acceptable because it finally gives proper protection to a typical and globally appreciated product, as well as to its vast public of consumers.