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Weekly News – Jan 25, 2018

The Real Thing

A girl in the south of Italy was briefly taken to the hospital after discovering a worm in the can of Coca-Cola she had been drinking. The 12-year-old girl, from the town of Andria in the Puglia region, noticed the worm in her mouth after taking a swig from the can. She went to hospital as a precaution, but was not suffering any ill effects and doctors released her after a few hours. The worm was also examined and will be sent to a specialist laboratory to be analyzed. “From a first look under the microscope there doesn’t appear to be anything to worry about,” the spokesman said. Police and food hygiene inspectors confiscated the can and are seeking to find out where it came from, but no doubt about it, it wasn’t a fake, the worm was the real thing.

Much Ado About…

Nutella fans around the world have had a hard time digesting news of a recipe change in their favorite hazelnut spread. Recently, a European consumer protection agency announced that it had detected an alteration in the product’s composition. The uproar on social media was so intense that Ferrero, the maker of the product, issued a statement confirming that it had changed the milk and sugar contents. For the record, the new recipe contains 8.7% powdered skim milk (up from 7%) and 56.3% sugar (up from 55.9%). Neither of these changes appears to be detectable in either the taste or the spread-ability, but some are still grumpy. Health advocates are concerned about Ferrero’s use of palm oil and whether it will switch to a different type since it is high in saturated fat, making it far less healthy than olive or canola oils.

Easy Reading

A growing number of Italian publishers have adopted a new font developed by graphic designer Federico Alfonsetti. He recognized that as fonts become more complicated, it increases the difficulties of those who suffer from dyslexia. Individuals without the affliction do not read single letters, but perceive words as a whole. A dyslexic deciphers words, letter by letter and the more complicated the font, the harder it is for them to read. The Tuscan Order of Psychologists put the font to the test with 600 fourth grade students. The successful results convinced numerous large publishers in the country to adopt Alfonsetti’s font, called ‘Easy Reading’ in their book designs.

They’re at it Again

The humble tomato has sparked a fierce debate between two of Italy’s southern regions which are arguing over the right to claim the food staple as their own. The controversy began when Naples requested an IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) designation for Neapolitan peeled tomatoes. After Naples submitted its request to Italy’s Agricultural Ministry, the neighboring region of Puglia objected. The latest data shows that over 191 tons of tomatoes were produced in Puglia, compared to only 26 tons in Campania. The vast majority of southern Italy’s tomatoes are harvested in the Puglian province of Foggia. In December, the two regions were engaged in a similar debate, this time over the status of mozzarella. As had been previously reported, Italy’s farming ministry granted the special DOP (protected designation of origin) label to the Puglian cheese, prompting anger in Campania, which has been home to the country’s only DOP mozzarella since 1996. While the disputes might seem trivial to the casual observer, in Italy, the IGP and DOP labels act as a clear confirmation of a product’s unparalleled quality. In the case of the mozzarella, the Campanian variety is made using buffalo milk, which is three times more expensive than the cow’s milk used to make the Puglia’s version. Those in Campania feared that the introduction of cheaper DOP mozzarella would damage the reputation and sales of buffalo mozzarella. Meanwhile, the “War of the Tomatoes” continues.

The Flu Season Hits Italy

Nearly four million people in Italy sought treatment for the flu in recent weeks, the highest number of cases since 2004. Children are the worst affected. Those under five comprised 31 patients out of every 1,000 treated, the highest rate of any age group, while 16 patients out of every 1,000 were between five and 14. The flu is particularly bad this year because a strain of the virus is circulating which traditional flu vaccine is less effective in combating. Only people who have received a newer, more comprehensive vaccine are protected from it. The good news is that the worst seems to be over. Numbers suggest that over the past two weeks, Italy’s flu season has reached its peak and now is on the decline.

From the Kitchen to the Sea

An Italian chef took pity on a fish which had been destined to end up on his diners’ plates, returning it to the sea after realizing that the creature was still alive. The fish, a four-pound grouper had been caught locally earlier that day and was already in a baking tray. The owner of Cucù in the town of Camogli, near Genoa, noticed that the fish alive, despite the fact that it had been out of water for several hours. He placed the fish in a basin of water and then released it safely into the Ligurian Sea.