Chinotto, lemonade. Italians’ most counterfeited soft drinks, 16 products compared


Chinotto, lemonade. The drinks most counterfeited by Italians, paradoxically, are those most rooted in tradition. Fraud is rampant and controls are latent, under the banner ofimpunity. We examined 16 products, half of which are outlawed.

Chinotto, cedar. Mediterranean citrus fruits

Chinotto is a citrus fruit, Citrus x myrtifolia, which is vaguely reminiscent of bitter orange. Of ancient Chinese origin according to some, it is present and has been cultivated for several centuries in and around Italy. In Liguria (where the Slow Food presidium ‘Chinotto di Savona’ is also registered) and the French Riviera (now France), in Tuscany, but also in Sicily and Calabria. Its small fruits are traditionally used in the production of jams, candied fruits and syrups. Chinotto juice is also used in some digestive drinks and bitters, as well as in the drink of the same name (also in Malta, where it is called kinni).

Citron is another citrus fruit, Citrus medica, which itself belongs to the genus Citrus, in the family Rutaceae. From the appearance of a large lemon-with a distinctive thick, rough skin-the citron is mainly grown in Calabria. As well as in other areas of the Mediterranean, all the way to the East from which it was originally derived. It is consumed fresh, as in the production of candied fruits and syrups, as well as in various beverages.

Chinotto, lemonade. Traditional drinks and rules

Chinotto, cedrata-along with ginger and gazosa, orangeade and lemonade-echo to the memory of the more mature under the category of ‘froth.’ Water with added carbon dioxide, some sugar, extracts or juices of the various plants. Back in the days when boys played in the streets, constantly moving. Light years away from PlayStation and diabetes in a can.

Of the postwar drinks, the names, flashes of joyful memory, and the rules have remained. Presidential Decree 19.5.58 No. 719 in particular. ‘Regulations for the hygienic regulation of the production and trade of carbonated water and carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks packaged in closed containers‘.

‘Non-alcoholic beverages sold under the name of a non-juice fruit, including citron and chinotto, or under the name of the relevant plant‘ – the aforementioned regulation prescribes –‘must be prepared with substances from the fruit or plant referred to in the name.’ (1)

Chinotto, lemonade. Shelf fraud

The legal designation of chinotto and cedrata, according to EU Regulation 1169/11, is therefore rooted in the national legislation mentioned above. (2) It follows that the reference to quinotto and cedar in the name of a soft drink cannot disregard the actual use of juice or parts or extracts of the relevant plants. The characteristic ingredients identify the beverage and must be mentioned on the label, specifying their quantity.

Shelf fraud, however, is rampant. Consumers believe they are buying a traditional soft drink–such as chinotto, cedrata–with even the smallest share of the Mediterranean citrus fruits, but instead they receive only sugary waters with added chemical flavorings. Therefore, numerous frauds in trade are being set up, which, however, to date, no administrative or judicial authority has interrupted.

The protection of consumers and the reputation of traditional Made in Italy beverages is right and urgent. The profaned legislation moreover is the same one that stipulates a minimum quota of orange juice in orange soda, the subject of periodic debates between the agricultural and industrial supply chains. So why relegate quinotto and citronade to the ‘third class’ of entitlements?


Chinotto, lemonade. True/False

We conducted a brief market survey, noting that a first group of virtuous beverages is matched by a second group of fakes. Chinotto, cedrata are the most counterfeited drinks by Italians themselves! The list follows.


Lurisia, ‘our Chinotto’, with ‘Ligurian Riviera chinotto infusion’. Other positive notes, the presence of lemon juice and brown sugar and especially the sole use of natural flavors

Baladin, a Cedrata with flair. Infusion of Calabrian cedars of Diamante quality, lemon juice and brown sugar

– Chin8 Blacks. The iconic brand name corresponds to the citrus extract in the ingredient list. Ça va sans dir!

– Tassoni Cedrata. The drink with the oldest history is still made by direct processing of Diamond quality cedars, grown in Calabria. W!

Polara, ‘Chinotto di Sicilia’ with natural extract of Sicilian chinottos. ‘Cedrata’ from ancient Sicilian recipe with natural extracts of Citrus medica

SanPellegrino, Chinò. Quinotto extract appears in ingredient list. Compared to traditional artisanal soft drinks such as Lurisia, we note the use of various chemically synthesized additives

Plos offers a Chinotto that actually contains the infusion. Pity only the excess of additives, including preservatives

Drink True. Spumadoro reserves for this ‘no logo’ an authentic drink, infused with the citrus fruit of Savona and premium ingredient list. Shame to destroy one’s brand reputation, as shown below



Spumadoro. The recipe may be ‘original,’ the ‘trademark filed since 1888,’ but in Cedrata there is no mention of the fateful citrus fruit

St. Benedict. ‘Chinotto zero’ boasts a ‘100% cheerfulness’ that is almost mocking where one notes the total absence of the citrus by which the product is named. ‘Cedrata’ is another fake, 100% disappointment

San Pellegrino. Cedrata only reports the presence of ‘natural citrus flavor with other natural flavors,’ a concept quite different from the legal requirement

Schweppes plays on the edge with a Cedrata that has only the natural aroma of cedar. Better than nothing but not enough

Carrefour, ‘Chinotto flavor. Only chemical additives (including sweeteners) added to water, sugar and fructose

Crai. Chinotto is only seen in the name of the product, in the ingredient list only chemical flavorings and a colorant

Easy Line, Ilaria SpA Source. Two references (Chinotto, Cedrata) without any trace of the relevant fruits or plants.

Dario Dongo



(1) Presidential Decree 719/1958, Article 5. The rule also specifies that such beverages‘are allowed to have fruit juices and natural flavoring and bittering substances other than the fruit and plant to which the name refers

(2) See reg. EU 1169/11, Article 17.1