95 percent of San Marzano tomatoes sold in the US are actually fake

Homemade pizza or a big bowl of pasta with red sauce is not the same without a can of San Marzano tomatoes. It's one of the best brands you can buy and, luckily for us, can easily be found at any grocery store across the country—or so we thought.

Unfortunately, those canned San Marzano tomatoes you've been buying are probably fake.

The president of Consorzio San Marzano shared some shocking news with Gustiamo, an Italian importing company, saying only about 5 percent of San Marzano tomatoes sold in the U.S. are actually real. That means the remaining 95 percent are imposters.

RELATED: Unofficial ranking of supermarket jarred tomato sauce

Unofficial ranking of supermarket jarred tomato sauce
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Unofficial ranking of supermarket jarred tomato sauce
Our Top Picks
(1) Classico Traditional Sweet Basil, $4, 24 ounces

The runaway favorite of this taste test, Classico is slightly sweet, pleasantly herby and the perfect consistency to grab onto your pasta. Our editors described it as "lovely," saying it could pass for fresh sauce, with chunks of delicious tomato and basil throughout. When you're unable to make your own, Classico is surely the next best thing.


Our Top Picks
(2) Barilla Traditional, $3.50, 24 ounces

Though not as universally beloved by our team, Barilla's Traditional sauce is a solid option for a weeknight dinner. It has a much stronger, zestier garlic taste than many of the others, and that certainly isn't a bad thing. With a smoother texture than Classico, editors found themselves liking it the more they tasted, saying, "It has character."


Our Top Picks
(3) Newman's Own Marinara, $3.50, 24 ounces

This jarred option immediately evoked a familiarity and nostalgia for our taste testers. It's quite sweet, which some editors loved, and has a good amount of oregano flavor, as well as a meaty texture. This sauce takes third place, though, because it tastes more like pizza sauce than a good, fresh pasta sauce. 


Runners Up
Bertolli Tomato and Basil, $3, 24 ounces

Our taste testers were significantly divided on this sauce, with some calling it their favorite of the bunch and others claiming it had a strange, floral herbiness. It's the least sweet of all the jars, making it the perfect purchase for those who like a dryer tomato sauce. Like Newman's, it also has a familiar taste and reminded some editors of more traditional sauces. All in all, a riskier option but tasty nonetheless.

Runners Up
Prego Traditional, $2, 14 ounces

Sugar lovers, this sauce is for you. The prevailing sweetness of Prego masks much of the other flavors present in the sauce, although some editors claimed to detect a hint of basil. Purchase this jar if you really love a sugary tomato sauce (and trust us: Some of us do).



So how can you tell which ones are fake and which are real? First is the price: A can of real San Marzano tomatoes is going to cost you about $5. Secondly, authentic cans must say "Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese Nocerino" on them. Don't rely just on the DOP label, as Taste reports, companies in the U.S. will put fake labels on tomatoes that have been sent over from Italy. Lastly, real San Marzano tomatoes are never chopped, diced or puréed.

Next time you're at the store, take a closer look at what you're grabbing off the shelf.

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