You might think you picked up Italian olive oil at the grocery store, but there's a chance it might be from another country. Unless you're an expert sleuth in label reading, it usually requires some research to understand what you're actually getting — until now, that is.
Enter Reliabitaly, a smartphone app created by a nonprofit organization of the same name that's targeting brands that claim to be "made in Italy" but are really anything but.
To use, shoppers scan the bar code of the product. Not only will the origin of the product be revealed, but consumers will also learn how it was made accompanied by multimedia elements like pictures and videos. The app is made for Italians to know what products are made within the country, but can be used by shoppers around the world as well.
"The aim is to protect and preserve the global prestige of 'made in Italy' products," the creators of the app told The Local.
Many food products — like buffalo mozzarella, Prosecco, and Modena balsamic vinegar — are protected under the European Union's geographic labels of origin (DOP). Italy has 221 protected products, reports Fox News, that cumulatively rake in $14 billion for the nation's economy.
Companies falsely labeling their goods to be "made in Italy" cause harm to the local economy and, as such, can face fines for misleading the consumer.
Olive oil is the largest victim of the "Italian-made" food fraud. By law, non-Italian oils cannot feature the national flag (or any other symbols suggesting the product is made in Italy) on the label, and packaging must directly indicate when non-Italian olives are used to prepare the oil. Most foreign-made olive oils are cheaper but also lower in quality. With olive oil fraud on the rise, local farmers in the nation are having a hard time competing with counterfeit goods.
Second to olive oil is cheese. Foreign-made Parmesan cheese sold online costs Italy roughly $64 million a year, according to the nation's Agricultural Ministry.
The app does have a limitation, as not all authentically sourced foods are on it. Since the app relies on companies and manufacturers to submit themselves to be a part of the app, some legit food companies might not be on the app. But while the nonprofit works on expanding its database, the app can serve as a great starting point for identifying which brands are fake.
Read more: This App Will Tell You if Your Olive Oil Is Really from Italy from Fox News