Parmigiano Reggiano - reading the "label"
The Parmigiano Reggiano label, meaning all of the data that identifies the wheel, is embedded on the perimeter of the wheel, or to use the correct term, on the “scalzo" of the wheel.
On the Parmigiano Reggiano wheel, there are different markings:
Marks of origin: those that are imprinted on the Parmigiano Reggiano wheel at the beginning of production.
Selection grade marks: those that are imprinted on the wheels only after they pass quality inspection from the Consortium.
Let’s look closely at each mark imprinted on the rind of the wheel.
Parmigiano Reggiano: marks of origin
After production, in the evening a plastic band is placed on the inside of the metal molds of each Parmigiano Reggiano wheel. This band presses the various origin marks into the wheel which is still soft:
- "PARMIGIANO REGGIANO" is written in pin dots: it is imprinted around the entire perimeter of the wheel.
- Serial number: It is a number given by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium that undisputedly identifies the dairy that produced the wheel. 4 Madonne dell'Emilia Dairy has a four number serial number: S.N. 1240 - Lesignana, S.N. 181 - Arceto, S.N. 2566 - Medolla, S.N. 1086 - Varana.
- The month and year of production: this number is imprinted under the serial number
- CE stamp: The sanitary authorization that allows us to sell our product and a further guarantee that the product was made respecting regulations.
- P.D.O (D.O.P.): The Protected Designation of Origin is the guarantee that the wheel was produced in the provinces of Bologna to the left of the Reno river, Mantua to the right of the Po river, Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilia.
In order to go back to the precise day of production, a “casein” plaque is also applied to the wheels which represents a true identity card of the Parmigiano Reggiano wheel and contains:
- The C.F.P.R. acronym
- An identification code on every wheel that is unique and in sequence
- The DATAMATRIX traceability code for scanning
Quality inspection and Selection Grade Mark
After the first 12 months of ageing, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium experts exam each and every wheel.
The inspectors carry an Expert quality control on every wheel, verifying that each one has the requirements to be called P.D.O. Parmigiano Reggiano.
If the wheel passes the test, it gets fire-branded with an oval mark bearing the wording “Parmigiano-Reggiano Consorzio di Tutela” and the year of production.
Not all of the wheels pass expert quality control!
Some wheels have small defects but they aren’t altercated organolepticly: Although these wheels become second choice and are called “Mezzane” they still get fire branded. They are easily recognizable because they have permanent parallel lines along the entire perimeter of the wheel.
The Parmigiano Reggiano wheels that have serious defects do not pass expert quality control and they become declassified. The wheels get whitened meaning that the origin marks are removed by stripping the rind.