Italy’s cheese consortium announced that it is working to combat the lucrative counterfeit parmesan market.
Parmigiano Reggiano, a hard-aged cheese, is a symbol of Italian gastronomy. It has also created a vibrant market for fake parmesan cheese.
A fraudulent cheese market that is worth billions
Parmigiano Reggiano is one the most well-known Italian food products. It is produced in the Emilia Romagna region of northeastern Italy, in the areas Parma, Reggio Emilia Modena Bologna, Bologna, Mantua and Modena. The cheese’s sales reached $2.7 billion in 2021.
Fake parmesan is just as lucrative. The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese consortium, which fights for authentic products, estimates that the market for copycats is worth $2 billion. This is almost the same as the real one.
Fake cheese being smashed
The consortium is taking drastic measures to stop the sale of knock-off parmesan, as it has huge stakes.
The consortium will add tracking chips to real Parmigiano Reggiano later in the year. The tiny trackers will be embedded in the casein labels of 100,000 cheese wheels.
These devices are expected to allow the group to distinguish authentic from fake cheeses. The chips could become a permanent part of the production process if the experiment proves successful.
How do you spot fake parmesan
Real Parmigiano Reggiano is only made with three ingredients: local milk that has been produced less than 24 hours ago, salt, and rennet (a natural enzyme derived from calf intestinale). This product is only permitted to be made in certain areas of Emilia Romagna.
You will find cheeses on supermarket shelves in the US with names such as Parmesana or Parmabon, Real Parma and Parmezano. This is a clear indication that the product may not be authentic.
Many imitations will simply be called parmesan, which is the direct translation from Parmigiano Reggiano. The name is not regulated in other countries, such as the USA.
Sometimes, cheeses that claim to be 100% Parmesan may not be the real deal. Many cheese producers use a variety of ingredients, including potassium sorbate, cheese cultures, and cellulose. This is basically wood pulp.
Food fraud is being prosecuted in Italy
Italy is well-known for its protection of made in Italy food products. A row was started in northern Veneto over the name, a Croatian wine. Prosecco is a sparkling white wine that’s popular in this region.
Italy was in a frenzy when Croatia applied to the EU for recognition of its prosek wine. The sweet, amber-hued wine is not the same as the Italian fizz despite its similar name. Prosecco producers argued that allowing the name prosek could confuse consumers.