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Cento Fine Foods

Cento is a US importer and distributor of Italian products located in New Jersey. They started in the 1960’s with the goal of getting Italian products into American supermarkets, and today, they’s still run by the same family. While they sell oven 1,000 Italian food items, you’re probably familiar with their Cento brand San Marzano tomatoes.

Sadly, their “Certified” San Marzano tomatoes are not actually DOP certified tomatoes, as an investigative report by Italian RAI national radio reports.

You should do what we do, and avoid buying them. Ethics matter. A better choice for real DOP San Marzano tomatoes on Amazon is La Valle.

Many of the brands labeled “San Marzano Tomatoes” here in the US are illegal to sell in Europe. That’s because the United States doesn’t recognize the Protected Designation of Origin legislation enforced in the EU. As our president Beatrice put it in her interview: “We’re in the Wild West of designations and names”. In the EU, for a product to be labeled “San Marzano Tomatoes” the tomatoes must abide by very strict rules. This is to protect the consumer and assure the quality of their purchase. However, no such protections exist in the United States. It’s up to you, the shopper, to determine what’s real and what’s pure marketing.

As Report Rai 3 proves, perhaps the biggest offender is the omnipresent brand Cento. While their plum-shaped tomatoes are grown in Italy, they are NOT DOP-certified San Marzano tomatoes. That’s despite the large “CERTIFIED” lettering on their packaging. Cento claims this is in reference to a voluntary certification by Bio Agri Cert, yet that same organization says it was never approved. This doesn’t sound good. Other common brands such as “La San Marzano” and “La Bella San Marzano” are nothing but oblong tomatoes. They are produced in Italy but only sold in the US. It’s illegal to sell these brands in Europe, since they intentionally mislead consumers.