Italy senators call for pizza-maker qualification

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

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image captionIn March, Italy put forward traditional Neapolitan pizza-making for inclusion on Unesco's cultural heritage list

A group of Italian senators is calling for pizza makers to pass exams in order to guarantee the quality of their creations.

Twenty-two members of parliament's upper house presented a bill on Tuesday which would establish a professional registry of pizzaioli - pizza chefs - complete with a 120-hour course leading to a diploma, the Rai News website reports.

Under the proposals, "aspiring pizzaioli" would have to pass a theoretical and practical exam after undertaking practical training, food science and hygiene modules, and foreign language study - at least half in English. Those who have been making pizzas for at least 10 years or who manage a team of at least four people would be automatically recognized as "master pizzaioli", according to La Repubblica.

The senators say around four million pizzas are eaten every day in Italy, and they want to ensure each one is up to standard. "Italy has great responsibility that derives from the fact that 'Made in Italy' is one of the best-known brands in the world," says the bill's initiator, Senator Bartolomeo Amidei. "In this context, there's no room for improvisation, and pizza makers should be valued and recognised."

The proposal has already won the backing of the Association for Genuine Neapolitan Pizza, and one pizza maker tells Il Messaggero that the bill is an "act of justice" because it recognises his colleagues as "artisans".

But there's far less enthusiasm among people commenting online. Many say it's just another layer of bureaucracy and some simply call it a "load of rubbish". "As if participating in a course and a diploma would guarantee the quality of the product," reads one comment on La Repubblica's website. Another person writes: "Doing this means cutting off tens of thousands of young people from the workplace, who want to work and simply make a pizza. It's absurd."

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