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Pasta strike saga continues

Italians are in a state of outrage that rising wheat prices mean a plate of spaghetti will almost certainly go up in the next few months.

by: Reuters | 31 Oct 2007

Just weeks after consumers staged a national pasta strike to protest the rising cost of the country's favourite food, Italian prosecutors and the country's anti-trust agency have stepped into the fray.

Prosecutors in Rome announced they were investigating possible illegal activity after sudden increases in the cost of Italians' beloved spaghetti.

For the moment, they have declined to name suspects or speculate about potential charges, although that may follow.

The pasta makers say a 73 percent hike in the past year in the cost of durum wheat, the only ingredient allowed in Italian pasta, forced them to raise prices.

Italy's anti-trust agency isn't completely satisfied. It announced last week it had opened an investigation into two possible price agreements hurting competition in pasta-making.

The companies which produce Italy's 3.2 million tonnes of pasta a year cautioned that pasta is still an inexpensive dish.

They say a simple homemade bowl of spaghetti in tomato sauce still costs less than 50 cents (70 U.S. cents) per portion, with the pasta accounting for no more than 15 cents of that.

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