Photo Courtesy of Consorzio Grana Padano
You may have noticed some cheeses bear markings on their rind. These are not ornamental, but rather informational and give you confidence you are buying an authentic product. Knowing a little about the various markings will educate you as to what type of cheese you are buying or eating.
Marks of Origin
Cheeses imported from Italy have markings on the outside of the wheel, on the rind. These marks are applied by the producer to identify the cheese and state its quality and authenticity. These marks are divided into various categories: marks of origin, certification marks and dietary designations.
The rind of a wheel of Grana Padano is completely covered with lozenge symbols formed out of pin dots. These symbols are diamond shapes with the words Grana and Padano running through them. A four-leaf clover is also stamped into the rind, confirming the origin of the wheel, as well as the code of the province and the producer’s registration number.
The rind of a wheel of Pecorino Romano has the words Pecorino Romano imprinted on it in a repeating pin dot pattern, along with a sheep’s head icon that is housed in a pin dot formed diamond.The cooperative’s trademark seal is also impressed on every wheel of cheese, along with the stamp identifying the name of the individual producer.
For more information about Pecorino Romano visit www.pecorinoromano.com.
The Denominazione di Origine Protteta (DOP) logo is the Italian top quality nomenclature for the EU quality system to be to be used in Italian speaking countries. In English speaking countries it is referred to as the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) logo.
The appellation d’origine rotégée (AOP) logo is the French certification granted to top quality nomenclature for the EU quality system to be used in French speaking countries. Created in 1992, this label protects the name of a product whose production, processing and preparation must take place in a given geographical area using recognized capability and expertise. To prevent any possible misrepresentation, no part of an AOP name may be used on a label of a product not qualifying for that AOP.
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Many of our Cello Riserva Cheeses carry the Wisconsin Cheese seal that signifies they are hand crafted in Wisconsin and made with Wisconsin milk. This logo represents the highest quality of cheese created by Wisconsin Dairy Farmers who belong to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. We use old world traditional methods to make our cheese here in the USA at Lake County Dairy in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. For more information about Wisconsin cheeses visit: http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/, and to see some of their delicious food pairing options check out www.cheesecupid.com.
For Parmigiano Reggiano, the certification mark is only applied to wheels that pass inspection.
This mark is fire-branded onto the wheel as an oval containing the words “Parmigiano Reggiano Consorzio Tutela” and includes the year of production.
During the certification branding, the wheels are divided into the following categories, which are indicated by both marks on the rind and on product packaging. The images below on the left are those unique marks that are branded on to the rind of each wheel. The icons on the right represent how the category is represented on the packaged product’s label.
These wheels of cheese are true to the appearance, texture and flavor of Parmigiano Reggiano and are suitable for being aged 24 months or more.
Upon the producer’s request, 18 month wheels can be inspected again for an additional certification. If the wheel fulfills the high standards necessary, then the mark EXTRA or EXPORT is branded on the rind of the wheel guaranteeing its superior quality. The “Extra” is slowly replacing the “Export” mark. Until “Export” is phased out, both exist in the market and mean exactly the same thing.
Only cut and wrap facilities located in Italy that have signed an agreement with the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano are authorized to apply the distinctive black “Wheel and Wedge” certification mark to the packaging of the Parmigiano Reggiano that they cut into wedges, shred, shave or cube.
Parmigiano Reggiano Mezzano
These wheels of cheese are meant to be eaten young, soon after the certification branding at 12 months. These wheels are marked with parallel lines that are scored into the rind around the entire circumference of the wheel.
Grana Padano Markings
Grana Padano wheels have a specific quality mark stamped on the rind only after the wheel of cheese has passed the rigid quality standards. This quality mark is a large lozenge with the words GRANA PADANO written horizontally through its center. There is also a large “G” in the top half and a large “P” in the bottom half of the lozenge.
Grana Padano also has three different markings that connote how long it has been aged.
A yellow diamond displaying the words GRANA PADANO is used for a wheel that has been aged between 9 and 16 months.
OLTRE 16 MESI
A yellow diamond displaying the words GRANA PADANO and a yellow bar below it with the words “OLTRE 16 MESI” is used for a wheel that has been left to age in the maturing cellars for over 16 months.
OLTRE 20 RISERVA MESI
A black and yellow circle displaying the words “OLTRE 20 RISERVA MESI” is used for a wheel that has been aged at least 20 months in the production zone and has developed specific qualities.
For more information about Grana Padano marks of origin and certification marks visit: www.granapadano.com.
Several of our cheeses have also been approved for use in food preparation and are designated as “fit and proper” to eat.
This particular Kosher seal certifies that our Cello Rich & Creamy Mascarpone and Cello Thick & Smooth Mascarpone have been made according to strict kosher food standards. The “circle U” standards for the Orthodox Union and the “D” signifies that the item contains dairy products.
To learn more about the Kosher markings, visit www.oukosher.org.
The certified Halal seal indicates that a product is able to be lawfully eaten and used by Muslims. The Islamic Food and Nutritional Council of America helps Halal consumers select goods, assuring them that what they are buying is undoubtedly Halal if it bears the crescent M symbol. Cello Rich & Creamy Mascarpone and Cello Thick & Smooth Mascarpone both have this designation.
To learn more about Halal markings, visit www.ifanca.org.