LONDON – London transport authorities promised Friday to remove posters warning against eating on the subway that left a bad taste in the mouths of Italian diplomats.
The offending advertisement depicted a man on a subway train surrounded by salami (search), strings of sausages and Parma hams, above the words "Please don't eat smelly food."
Guido Cerboni, economic affairs chief at the Italian embassy in London, said the poster was "offensive and harmful to Italian products."
He said Italian ambassador Giancarlo Aragona (search) had written to London transport officials and mayor Ken Livingstone to complain about the ad.
"We have no objection to the campaign about smelly food, but we object to the way it has been presented," Cerboni said.
"It is clearly harmful for Italian produce and also not very politically correct, because the man portrayed in the poster was clearly Italian or Mediterranean."
Advertising executives had "obviously never eaten prosciutto" if they thought it was smelly, he added.
Livingstone said he had ordered the posters removed.
"As a lover of Italian food, I can say that the items illustrated both smell and taste delicious," he said. "I have asked London Underground to take the ads down immediately."
London Underground (search) apologized "for any offense caused to any members of the Italian community and charcuterie manufacturers and retailers."
"The poster was meant to be a lighthearted attempt to dissuade Tube passengers from eating smelly foods," it said. "Under no circumstances was it meant to cause offense to any nationality or company."