Italian Cheesemakers Microchip Parmesan In Bid To Fight Copycats
One of the world’s most famous cheeses is also one of the most counterfeited dairy products on the planet. Competing manufacturers have for years produced cheaper imitations of Italy’s parmigiano reggiano, a favored topping for pasta and salad. Now, the producers of parmigiano reggiano say they have innovated a way to prevent any pretenders from ripping off their product.
Microchips Secure Authenticity
Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium (PRC), the association that oversees production of the cheese, says it has been putting microchips in its product. This is part of a technological trial allowing consumers to trace parmesan cheese back to its place of origin.
Under special European Union protections, parmigiano reggiano is the only kind of cheese which can be called parmesan within Europe. It must be made in a small part of northern Italy, including in the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia.
PRC are hopeful that their new technology will help to enforce that protected status. Their microchips are about the size of a grain of salt. They are inserted into the labels found on the rind of about 120,000 wheels of parmigiano reggiano. The chips work as scannable food tags with a QR code label.
Nicola Bertinelli, president of Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano, told CBS News that “by being the first to incorporate these secure digital labels onto our cheese wheels, we can continue to ensure consumer safety.”
Global Recognition And Legal Challenges
“Since the establishment of our Consortium in 1934, we have worked to convey the value of our product globally. We distinguish it from similar-sounding products on the market that do not meet our strict requirements for production and area of origin,” Berintelli said.
In the United States, Parmiano Reggiano does not have protected status. American manufactures in states like Wisconsin make different forms of ‘parmesan’ cheese.
Outside of the United States, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium successfully blocked US food giant Kraft Heinz from registering the name “Kraft parmesan cheese” as a trademark in Ecuador in 2022.
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Source: CBS News