Protected Designation of Origin, or DOP in Italian, is a label guaranteed by the European Union, which for over 20 years has recognised the need to protect products whose quality characteristics are connected to a specific territory, and its traditions. Following this logic, all phases, from procuring raw ingredients, to transformation and processing, must be carried out within the precise delineated borders defined in production regulations.
According to these rules, the request for granting of the DOP label must be presented by an association, or other organization representing the producers themselves. In Italy these are generally called consortiums.
The status of Protected Designation of Origin includes rigid inspections to ensure criteria are met, as well as market vigilance against any form of fraudulent use of the product name. Since 2006 it has even been possible to present requests for registration of products from other countries, and in 2009 the DOP label was extended to wine, which is still governed by the Italian DOC, DOCG and IGT labels.