Jamón Ibérico: new labels for the authentic “pata negra”

Spain’s government acted to protect the global reputation of its prize cured ham, the exquisite ruby-red Jamón Ibérico, by simplifying labels and tightening quality.

Among the most sought-after hams in the world, the best quality Spanish cured ham is made from a pig of the purebred, black-hoofed indigenous Ibérico race, which has been fattened on acorns as it wanders the meadows.commercial jumping castle for sale

“Jamón Ibérico is a star produce of Spanish gastronomy. It is the flagship,” Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete told a news conference. But the rules were “enormously confused”, leaving consumers in Spain and abroad puzzled about what they were buying, he said after a meeting of ministers approved the reform.

Under the new rules, labels must tell shoppers if the product came from a pig that was 100 percent iberico or of a lesser percentage, depending solely on verified breeding records.

The number of categories of Jamón Ibérico was sliced from four to three: “bellota (acorn)” for a pig fattened on acorns in open fields; “cebo de campo” (field feed) for a pig fattened in open fields on natural grazing and fodder; and “cebo (feed)” for a pig raised in a feeding pen.

The best pigs are fed exclusively on acorns over the winter, a diet that gives the fat a unique, sweet flavour.

The new reform introduces a colour-coded system for labels: black for 100-percent iberico pigs raised on acorns; red for mixed race iberico pigs fattened on acorns; green for those raised in the open on other feeds; and white for those fattened in a feeding pen.

Among the new quality controls, legs of iberico cured ham below a certain weight were barred for sale, checks on the period of time a ham is cured were tightened and minimum space requirements were set for live pigs raised in fields or feeding pens.