The Council of Ministers, at the proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, approved, last Friday, the Royal Decree by which the quality standard for the Iberian pig meat, and cured hams, forelegs and loins is approved. This regulation improves the information given to the consumers through the labelling and the presentation, the quality of the product (because it establishes a higher strictness and control of the processes), and the reliability with respect to the names that really correspond to the products.
With respect to the authorized breeds, the role of the genealogical book (whose certificates will now become the only way to confirm the breed purity) has been reinforced, and this will help to preserve the Iberian pig purity.
With regard to the raising of the pigs in the montanera (extensive rearing in the dehesas or holm oak, cork oak and/or gall-oak forests), the regulation adapts the stocking density to the production capacity of the dehesa, establishing a number of pigs per hectare of dehesa depending on the tree-covered area (between 0.25 and 1.25 pigs/ha).
The standard also regulates the premises: they need to have a higher minimum surface for the rearing of the pigs during fattening stage (a minimum of 2m² for those animals that weight more than 110 kg live weight).
For the selling of the products a firm bet is made towards the improvement of the information given to the consumer through the labelling: the commercial name and the mention of the percentage of the breed purity.
With this aim the commercial names are simplified. From the previous four options (acorn-fed or montanera [pigs raised extensively with acorns, grass and products found in the dehesa during their fattening period]; recebo [pigs raised with acorns, grass, products found in the dehesa and feed during their fattening stage]; pigs fed feed in the dehesa; and intensively raised pigs). With the new quality standard the commercial name 'recebo' is eliminated.
In the label it is compulsory to tell the percentage of Iberian pig breed in the case that the animals are 100% Iberian pigs and in a visible place in the rest of the cases.
The use in ads and in the labelling of terms that may lead the consumer to error is limited. So, for the name "acorn-fed", the names, logos, images, symbols or mentions that may evoke or refer to any aspect related with acorns or the dehesa are exclusively reserved. In particular, the name "pata negra" (black trotter) will only be used in the case of products from 100% Iberian acorn-fed pigs.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE CARCASSES
The control systems are also reinforced, establishing a more severe rigour and control of the weights of the carcasses and the cuts, and of the minimum time for their curing, improving the reliability with respect to the assignment of the names that really correspond to the products.
The improvement in the assignment of the names will be achieved with, among other actions, the incorporation of a seal with a different colour that will be placed on each ham and foreleg at the abattoir:
- Black for the 100% Iberian acorn-fed pigs
- Red for the acorn-fed Iberian pigs
- Green for the Iberian pigs fed extensively in the fields
- White for the intensively-fed Iberian pigs
With respect to the products, a minimum weight for the cured cuts is required when they leave the industries in order to avoid the selling of small products that do not reach the minimum quality standards expected by the consumers.
Friday January 10, 2014/ MAGRAMA/ Spain.