andrew schneider investigates

February 28, 2008

If it’s Parmesan, it must be from Parma.

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Food labeling,Food Safety — Andrew Schneider @ 13:30

Shaved or grated over almost anything or eaten by the chunk, the nutty-sweet, slightly salty, seductive flavor of Parmesan cheese, especially Parmigiano-Reggiano, is worth going to war over or at least, fighting in court to protect it.

The European Court of Justice seems to understand the value of the Italian delicacy that has been produced for more than eight centuries near Parma. This week it ruled that “Only cheeses bearing the protected designation of origin (PDO) ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ can be sold under the name ‘Parmesan.”

The high court, located in Luxembourg, rejected the idea that “Parmesan” is a generic name undeserving of protection, reports Deutsche Welle.

Italian food producers are very concerned about counterfeiting of the food treasurers and agricultural officials believes that one out of every four Italian products sold abroad is an imitation, the Italian press reports.

The PDO system or “protected designation of origin,” gives the cheese the same protection benefiting other European products, such as French Camembert, which must come from Normandy, or champagne, which must come from the French region of the same name. Only products made in the place were the foods were first created can be sold under the traditional name.

Fine Cooking magazine offers this suggestion for getting the right stuff: Look at the rind. An authentic wheel has the words “Parmigiano Reggiano” stenciled closely and repeatedly around the rind of the entire wheel so that every piece of rind will bear part of these markings. The label signifies that certain standards have been met in the production of the cheese.

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