There have been times in my life when I have thought that bad ice cream should be illegal. You know, the kind that’s already freezer burned when you bring it home or turns out to be more air than dairy. And now in Italy, where they take food very, very seriously and consider gelato a national symbol, there is a campaign underway in the senate to fight against bad gelato. Bless them.
Bad gelato will not be illegal exactly, reports Food & Wine. It’s just that there will be heavy fines—up to €10,000—if a gelato maker is caught adulterating their product with artificial flavors, synthetic dyes, or hydrogenated fats, or adding extra air to make it fluffier. The only ingredients permitted would be “milk and its derivatives,” eggs, and fresh fruit and other natural flavorings, with no more than 30% air. (Artisanal ice creams, such as Jeni’s or Van Leeuwen, contain between 20% and 30% air. Commercial ice creams can be as much as 80% air. The more air ice cream contains, the less room there is for butterfat, which is what makes it taste rich and delicious. To learn more, check out this excellent article from Eater.)
I’m not sure how the Italian senate works, and Food & Wine gave no indication of how likely it is that this gelato bill will become law. (If anyone has an Italian version of “I’m Just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock!, please feel free to share in the comments.) It seems, however, that it has the support of the artisanal gelato crowd. “A law that protects consumers and real artisans would be useful,” gelato maker Stefano Ferrero told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. “Many of us search for the best cocoa mass, the one that best fits our idea [for gelato]. But, at this point, it doesn’t make any sense to compete with those who use much easier methods.”
Bravo, Italian senators, for working to protect your country’s resources. May no one ever leave an Italian gelato shop disappointed again.