Truffle Naming Standards

Truffle Naming Standards

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    • #3797
      AvatarFabrice Caporal

      At the last meeting in Charlotte it became obvious that there is a great need for a clear naming standard for truffles and their derived products. The lure of a quick profit leads individuals to take advantage of the lack of labeling standards to sell lower quality products at higher prices. The typical example is the practice of selling the lower grade T. indicum under the label “Black Truffle” hoping to secure the price reserved for T. melanosporum.

      While we all agree that today’s nomenclature is vague with lots of overlaps resulting in confusion from the buyers, there are however many diverging opinions about which standard should be applied, and reinforced by NATGA.

      For the standard to be successful and reinforce-able it will have to be intuitive, relatable, non technical, and precise.

      During the meeting, some argued that we should create new names like T-mel or T-ast. This solution would provide better precision to the labeling, but it will not address the confusion of the general public. Part of the problem we are facing is that we already have too many names/labels. Worst, these names are not relatable to anyone. I would be surprised to find anyone in the street that would know what T-mel is. Abbreviating the scientific name is not helping with lack of familiarity. To further add to the confusion having all the truffle names start with a “T-” results in labels that look/sound the same.

      One argument is that we should remove the geographical origin from the name, because how can one explain a Black Perigord Truffle harvested in Maine? I think this is a false problem. Consumers are trained to distinguish Historical Origin from Product source. When people are talking about a French Bulldog or an Australian Sheppard, they are not confused when the breeder is in California. When you are planting an English White Oak do you really believe that you are using a tree from a nursery in England? I will somewhat concede the point. So, whenever possible we should stay away from adding geographical reference in the name, but when it adds clarity then we should use it.

      I strongly believe that the solution is to adopt a nomenclature that would lock down the common name and for less common know truffles use the second part of the scientific name followed by “truffle” (eg Gibbosum truffle).

      Label…………. Corresponding species
      Black truffle…………. T. melanosoporum
      Summer truffle………… T. astivum
      Burgundy truffle………. T. uncinatum
      White truffle…………. T. magnatum
      Oregon black truffle…… L. carthusianum
      Oregon white truffle…… T. oregonense
      Oregon brown truffle…… K. brunnea
      Pecan truffle…………. T. lyonii
      Chinese truffle……….. T. indicum
      Bianchetto truffle…….. T. borchii

      Examples of less common truffles
      Mesentericum truffle……. T. Mesentiricum
      Gibbosum truffle……….. T. gibbosum

      With this nomenclature only T. melanosporum could be called Black Truffle, end of the confusion.

      Such naming conventions can be precise, relatable to the existing market, are expendable, and can transfer to the international markets. What do you think?

    • #3822
      AvatarElise Baker

      I think your recommendation is sound. Being new to the truffle arena, I had some confusion over what was what, and after attending the Oregon truffle festival I discovered I didn’t really care for the Oregon white. Having some common nomenclature would certainly prevent me from purchasing a product I don’t really care for.

      I also believe it will help curb those less than forthright merchants if a standard is used. While they may still offer a “black” truffle, having a standard will allow consumers to have a common language and give them the information necessary to ask “which black truffle”.

    • #3823
      AvatarFran Angerer

      I do not believe we can change the labeling methods of the world. Foreign producers are not going to follow our lead and will continue to ship product into North America labeled Black Truffle that is not T-Melanosporum. This problem will not be resolved because NATGA says so, but, as an organization, we should have our own method to ensure credibility within our member organization. The NATGA label will become associated with quality and add value to the member/grower.

      When possible, the full nomenclature, place of origin, and date harvested should be on the label. If label space does not allow the full name to be printed, then an abbreviated version of the full name can be used.

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