How to recognise real Parmigiano Reggiano

Discover how to recognise real Parmigiano Reggiano from forgeries and imitations

Ingredients

Parmigiano Reggiano is made only with milk, rennet and salt; any other ingredients or preservatives listed on the label are an indication that it is not real Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano with the crust

When Parmigiano Reggiano is in its traditional whole form, or cut into slices with its crust, the original product is easily recognisable. The crust, or any part of it, must clearly show the dots that spell out Parmigiano Reggiano. This is in fact a mark of origin that is marked on the form when it is made.

Parmigiano Reggiano without the crust

If you do not have the possibility to check whether the crust has the typical dots, as it is packaged or cut into a number of different forms (e.g. grated, flaked, diced, sliced…), the originality of the product is guaranteed if the package shows at least one of the following selection marks as well as any other indication required by law:

 

  1. The “Forma e punta” mark
  2. The  “Mezzano” mark
  3. The  “Extra” mark
  4. The  “Export” mark

Mandatory indications

The indications that must appear on all packs of Parmigiano Reggiano by law, or as defined in the regulations or by the Protection Consortium, are:

• The CE mark identifying the production and/or packaging premises. Each company has a different mark, composed of two letters that identify the country of origin (e.g. Italy = IT), and a number identifying the region and the factory.
• The words: “Certificato da Organismo di controllo autorizzato dal MiPAAF”  
• The authorisation number issued by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium to all producers and product packagers, following the indication: Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium Authorisation no.

Only the packages that carry, at the same time, at least one mark of origin or selection and all the obligatory indications identify real Parmigiano Reggiano.

Marks

“PARMIGIANO REGGIANO” MARK

The “PARMIGIANO REGGIANO” mark identifies cheese that, during the DOP conformity selection process is recognised to be of first-quality (selected-zero-one). On these forms we find the marks of origin (written in dots) and the oval fire-branded mark. This mark can also be used on grated or small packages of portioned cheese (e.g. cubes, flakes, nuggets) made from whole cheese adhering to the requisites defined in the Production Regulation.

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO MEZZANO MARK

This name is used to identify Parmigiano Reggiano with mild or medium defects in the paste and/or on the crust, but which do not alter the typical organoleptic characteristics of the product. Alongside the oval fire-branded mark on the side of the crust, a special mark is made of parallel grooves over the dotted writing (also known as “Rigato”, striped, in slang). This mark can also be used to identify small packs of portioned or grated cheese (e.g. cubes, flakes, nuggets) made from this type of cheese.

EXTRA MARK

IThis type of Parmigiano Reggiano, after a 18-month maturing process, has passed an extra “expert” test that is requested voluntarily by the cheese maturer.

EXPORT MARK

As with the EXTRA mark, this Parmigiano Reggiano, after a 18-month maturing process, is identified by the Consortium experts as “selected”.

The stamps

Red stamp: Parmigiano Reggiano which has been matured for more than 18 months. This cheese has a somewhat distinctive milk base, with vegetable notes such as grass, cooked vegetables and at times flowers and fruit. It is ideal diced and served with aperitifs, and in particular dry white wines, and as an accompaniment to fresh fruit such as pears and green apples.

Silver stamp: Parmigiano Reggiano which has been matured for more than 22 months. The flavour of this cheese is more distinctive, with notes of melted butter, fresh fruit and citrus fruits as well as overtones of dried fruit. The cheese has a balanced mild yet full-flavoured taste, with a crumbly, grainy texture. It is an ideal accompaniment to quite firmly structured red wines and excellent when served as Parmigiano Regiano petals in fruit salad drizzled with Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena..

Gold stamp: Parmigiano Reggiano which has been matured for more than 30 months (extra-strong). This cheese, with the highest nutritional values, has a drier, crumblier and grainier texture. Its strong flavour and notes redolent of spices and dried fruit prevail. For such a distinctive cheese, full-bodied, firmly structured red wines, white dessert wines from partially dried grapes and sipping wines are ideal.

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