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Rana: over 7 tons of pesto seized at Genoa port

The Kirkland brand product is imported from the Chicago plant

The product, destined for French and Spanish supermarkets, allegedly did not comply with European labeling regulations.

Speaking of Italian sounding and its surroundings, 7 tons and 184 kilos of U.S.-made pesto was seized in the port of Genoa by border inspectors from the ministry of Health because it would not comply with European food labeling regulations. The nearly 800 drums are stored, for the time being, on the premises of the border health authorities and the Customs agency in La Spezia. 

The pesto, although belonging to one of the best-known Italian brands in the pasta sector, the famous "Giovanni Rana" brand, was produced in the United States, in the Chicago suburbs, where a plant of the Italian company has been operating since 2012: according to La Repubblica writes, the seized cargo was headed to the plant in San Giovanni Lupatoto, in the province of Verona, to then be sorted to supermarkets in Spain and France.

The 7,184 kilograms of product are the subject of a multimillion-dollar dispute that will have to be unraveled by the judges of the Liguria Regional Administrative Court, where an appeal was filed by the producer, Rana meal solutions (a company of the Giovanni Rana group based in Chicago), against the seizure order dating back to Jan. 27. 

On that date, the health director and the director of the Border Control Post Office in Genoa decreed "the non-admission in the EU territory" of the cargo of Basil pesto-100% imported Italian dop genovese basil" destined to be sold in France and Spain, under the Kirkland brand, by Cotsco, a U.S. hard discount giant.

The authorities who verified the shipment have strong doubts about what, in the supply chain set up by Giovanni Rana's company, represents the final customer, namely the U.S. multinational hard discount retailer "Costco": which sells, in the French and Spanish supply chains, under the Kirkland brand, the pesto produced in America by Rana with the Dop brand and the words on the label: "Basil 100% italian basil," to be precise with the indication "Basil pesto, 100% imported italian basil dop-genovese basil". The law currently in effect, in this regard, states that it is "prohibited to use geographical indications and designation of origin in trademarks". 

According to the ministry inspectors who carried out the seizure, therefore, the problem is that the label with references to italian and genovese basil poorly reconciles with the fact that the cargo arrived from Chicago: this is why they banned the Kirkland pesto from entering as "non-compliant due to unsatisfactory identity control under EU Regulation 625/2017", which regulates food controls. 

Pastificio Rana's attorneys do not stand for this and challenge, among other things, the "total generality" of the charge: "it is not given to understand in what way the control would not have been satisfactory", they stress. The company explains: "the regulations were complied with. Genovese basil shipped to the U.S. and then returned in the form of sauce for an American chain's market in France and Spain". Tar judges will decide whether to release the shipment or confirm the seizure.

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EFA News - European Food Agency