The rules governing the production and processing of what is arguably the best ham in Italy.
Parma ham, a world-famous Italian speciality, was first documented in ancient Roman times, when Cato described the process of preparing it in his work De Agricultura. What are the secrets of Parma ham and the rules governing the process that makes it unique?
Parma ham is DOP-certified, a guarantee of its provenance and the method of production. It conforms to EU regulation 1151/2012 governing the quality of agricultural and food products.
The ham is a rounded shape and it weighs 8-10kg. When sliced, it displays a uniform colour between pink and red with white fat. It has a sweet, delicate flavour with specific qualities due to the ageing process that it undergoes.
The first criterion for Parma ham is geographical. It must be produced in the Parma region between Enza and Stirone. The production process is as follows, with every stage subject to strict rules:
Once the certification is given, the hams are branded with the ducal crown and the name “Parma”. Traceability is ensured by means of a complex system that records all stages of the production chain, comprising the brand applied by the farmer to both legs of the animal to identify the farm and the pig’s date of birth, the stamp that identifies the slaughter house, and the date that the ageing of the ham began, which is indicated on a metallic seal.
Only after certification can Parma ham be sold, whole or sliced, for packaging.