Blog: Britain flooded with fake Italian food; Brexit (of course) to blame – The Takeout

Photo: Timothy Hiatt (Getty Images)

Unless you somehow lucked out and have spent the last few years living in a WiFi-free bunker, you probably know that literally everything in America has gone cuckoo bananas. There are just so many things to be despondent over—climate change; political strife; labor issues; robots—and it’s enough to drive even the most rational person deep into the pits of despair. Personally, I find myself losing my shit about one thing or another at least six times a day (and usually two to three times at night), so I’ve adopted a number coping strategies to get me through these trying times. Like taking short meditation breaks—or reading about all the ways Brexit is biting the U.K. in the ass.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not rejoicing in the U.K.’s self-inflicted misery, but it’s nice to know that we’re not the only country that’s in a constant state of WTF. Hard times are easier to get through when you’ve got a friend to lean on, and America has no truer friend than Britain. That’s probably why our country has been exporting “counterfeit” Italian groceries to our friends across the pond. It’s not an act of deception—it’s an act of love.

I’ll explain. Before Brexit took effect in early 2020, Britain was the fourth-largest importer of Italian food. Nine months into 2021 (the first full post-Brexit year), Italy’s pasta exports to the U.K. have fallen by 28%, extra virgin olive oil by 13%, and tomato products by 16%. What hasn’t fallen, though, is the Brit’s insatiable hunger for Italian cuisine, leading Italy’s agriculture industry to believe American manufacturers have been flooding the market with fugazi foodstuffs.

In an official statement from Coldiretti, Italy’s agriculture lobby group, chief economist Lorenzo Bazza warns that dubious food manufacturers have been using deceptive packaging to trick consumers into believing they’re buying authentic Italian products. “The British need to watch out for Italian oil and parmesan with an Italian flag on the label, which actually comes from America,” said Bazza.

Before Brexit, Coldiretti was able to work directly with the British government to crack down on the sale of counterfeit Italian goods, but now the lobby worries that the fake food floodgates have opened, and the situation is only going to get worse. Prepare to initiate high-intensity pasta discernment.

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