Italians have helped pioneer the use of regional food legislation, in particular to protect the names of wines. The systematic protection of wines had its beginnings in 1900, with the modern scheme being instituted in 1963.
In 1993, a unified, Europe-wide system for the protection of traditional foods was introduced, which offered protection for agricultural products as well as a separate, but similar, system for wines. In Italy, the two systems run concurrently, particularly for wine, with the existing classifications generally taking precedence on labels. Despite this dual system, today Italy is the European country with the most protected foods under the EU regime.
As with all other countries in the EU, there are three types of European protection available for foods or agricultural products. Under EU law, wines have their own scheme and are classified separately to other drinks and foodstuffs, although wines still bear the same PDO/PGI labels.
Number of protected foods: 274