Most Parmesan Cheeses In America Are Fake, Here's Why:

It's easy to tell real Parmigiano-Reggiano when you can see a piece of the rind, because it is embossed with its name over and over.

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This great cheese is worthy of all that praise: it is very natural, very healthy, very delicious and very consistent. It is wonderful by itself in chunks, shaved over or grated into foods, cooked or uncooked. It has been so good at doing so many things for so long - over 800 years - that it has earned the nickname in the dairy industry, “The King of Cheeses.”

But there is one big problem. As good as the cheese is, and as famous as it is, you rarely actually get to eat it - even when you think you are. The English translation of the cheese is Parmesan, and when you buy it in England you get Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s the law. The American translation is also Parmesan, but when you buy it here, you could be getting almost anything - except usually Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

For the first time ever, in 2014, global production of fake parmesan and grana padano has overtaken that of the genuine made-in-Italy.

According to Italian farmers' association Coldiretti, last year the production of  parmesan-like and grana-like cheeses exceeded 300 million kg, while in Italian cheese makers produced 295 million kg of the real 'Made in Italy' kind.

This has had a strong negative impact on the export value of genuine parmesan and grana, and led to a minor increase in the value of exports of other typical Italian cheeses such as pecorino and gorgonzola. Much of the fake parmesan and grana is produced in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Argentina and Australia.

Technically, these are known as 'Italian-sounding' products, products which are marketed and named in such a way as to sound Italian, having some features of the original brand, but not originating in Italy and, therefore, produced without following the same quality standards.

In the United States and Canada, in particular, sales of fake Italian products have overtaken real ones by almost 10 to 1. A famous case is that of a Canadian company who had registered the trademark ‘Parma’, so that real Italian Parma ham was sold in Canada under another name —‘Original ham’ — while the fake Italian product (i.e. the Canadian ham) was sold under the name ‘Parma ham’. 

According to trade associations, besides causing considerable economic damage to Italian companies and harming Italy's image, Italian-sounding products are having a negative impact on Italy's turnover, amounting to EUR six million per hour. 

Please read more from ITALY magazine here and why we continue to look for  'Real Made-in Italy' products to talk about and try to explain the work behind them.