PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) is a European Community certification system, designed to protect names and traditions of high-quality European foods, whose characteristics are dependent on their geographic region. The production of the products must take place within this specified region, and the region must also give its name to the products – much the same as Champagne can only be produced in the region of Champagne in France.
The name Parma Ham is exclusively reserved for hams produced in Parma according to the strict rules set by the Consortium and based on the ancient tradition of its place of origin. In fact, in 1996 Parma Ham became one of the first meat products to be awarded the Protected Designation of Origin status.
In addition to providing legally binding name protection, the PDO system also helps consumers, retailers, chefs, distributors and culinary professionals distinguish between authentic products and their many imitations. The PDO logo is included on all authentic packs of Parma Ham.
The name 'Parma Ham' can only be used for hams bearing the Ducal Crown, the unique brand given at the end of the ageing period. The final branding, however, is only the last step of a long identification process.
Every stage of the rigorous production plan of Parma Ham can be tested and proven. This is what is meant by traceability. The entire history of each leg of Parma Ham is visible through, seals, brands and tattoos marked on its skin.
The breeder puts a special tattoo on both legs of the young pig within 30 days of birth showing the breeder’s identification code and a code indicating the month of the animal’s birth.
A metal seal made up of a circular crown showing the C.P.P. (Consorzio Prosciutto di Parma) initials and the date curing began is secured to the leg.
Brands a mark which identifies the slaughterhouse where every fresh trimmed leg is checked
Finally, the five-point Ducal Crown is fire branded on the skin of the ham under the strict control of the I.P.Q. inspectors and is the FINAL guarantee of the quality of the ham. The Ducal Crown also shows the identification code of the producer.