How to recognise real Parmigiano Reggiano
FIND OUT HOW TO IDENTIFY PARMIGIANO REGGIANO FROM COUNTERFEITS AND IMITATIONS
Parmigiano Reggiano is only made with milk, salt and rennet. The presence of any other ingredients or preservatives shown on the label would mean that it is actually not Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmigiano Reggiano with the rind
Parmigiano Reggiano, which is sold as the traditional whole cheese or in slices with the rind, has an essential element which guarantees that you can recognise the cheese: the marking. The hallmark dotted writing of “Parmigiano Reggiano” must be on the rind, which usually has to run along the entire side of the rind. If it does, then it is a mark of origin which guarantees that the cheese is authentic, as this marking is applied during production.
Parmigiano Reggiano without the rind
Portioned and packaged Parmigiano Reggiano (for example, grated, flakes, cubes, etc.) is not easily identified from the typical dotted writing, as it does not have the rind, but it can be recognised as the original cheese if the pack has at least one of the following selection marks, as well as the statements required by law:
- The “Forma e punta” mark
- The “Mezzano” mark
- The “Export” mark
- The “Premium” mark
What are the compulsory statements?
Packs of Parmigiano Reggiano must indicate the following statements required by law and by the Protection Consortium:
- The CE Stamp indicating the production and/or packaging factory of the product. Each company has a different identification stamp formed of two letters that identify the country of origin (e.g. Italy = IT), and a number which identifies the region and the factory.
- The writing: “Certificato da Organismo di Controllo autorizzato dal Mipaaf” (Certified by a Control Body authorised by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies) together with the DOP logo (or PDO).
- The authorisation number issued by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium for all producers and packers of the product.
Only packs that simultaneously show at least one mark of origin or selection mark and all legal statements can indicate real Parmigiano Reggiano.
“PARMIGIANO REGGIANO” FORMA E PUNTA MARK
This mark identifies cheese that during the selection test (expert quality control) was recognised as top-quality (chosen-number-one). It has a compact structure and characteristics that meet the specifications. It is suitable for long ageing to be enjoyed either as it is or processed. The marks of origin are applied onto the whole cheeses (dotted writing of “Parmigiano Reggiano” and the casein plate) as well as the oval fire-branded mark. This mark can also be used to indicate the grated product portioned into small weights (for example, cubes, nuggets and flakes), made from whole cheese that meets the requirements set by the Specifications.
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO MEZZANO MARK
Parmigiano Reggiano is identified as Mezzano when it has certain slight or medium-sized defects in its structure and/or on the rind, but there are no alterations to the product’s typical organoleptic properties. The whole cheeses therefore have the oval fire-branded selection mark of “Parmigiano Reggiano”, but are different from top-quality cheeses thanks to the parallel grooves that are marked onto the heel of the whole cheese.
EXPORT MARK AND PREMIUM MARK
These marks indicate Parmigiano Reggiano that has been aged for at least 18 months and for which, at the voluntary request of the cheese holder, the Consortium can conduct a new quality selection test (expert quality control). These marks are applied onto “chosen” whole cheeses and ensure that consumers and businesses get an additional quality guarantee for the Parmigiano Reggiano. These marks can also be shown on packs that contain cheese identified in this way.