Ham and Cheese Unite to Defend Slicing Rights

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Jun 04, 2002
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Parma is concerned about losing control of ham production and profits, a fear which is exacerbated by its debate with British supermarket chain Asda over who has the right to slice it. Consequently, its consortium of ham makers have decided to form a ham-and-cheese alliance with hometown Parmigiano-Reggiano and Comte cheese from France’s Jura mountain region in advance of the next EU leaders’ summit scheduled for June 21 in Seville, Spain.

The EU has assigned denominations of origin to some 500 European cheeses, vegetables and meats, including Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is also made in Parma. These products can be legally made only in their traditional home regions.

In 1997, Asda began selling packages of “extra special Parma ham” sliced by British butchers, not Parma ones, saying that’s their right.

Hogwash, replied the consortium. While it’s fine for Brits to slice at deli counters because the Parma crown logo is visible, only the consortium should have the right to do industrial-style slicing. That way the consortium can guarantee packaged Parma ham is the real thing.

“The Fight to Slice” case, as the British press called it, is going badly for Parma. In April, a preliminary decision by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, sided with Asda.

Moderator Comment: How does Wal-Mart justify replacing
butchers with case-ready in the States, yet, employing them in its Asda stores
in the UK?

Who slices Parma ham in Wal-Mart’s SuperCenters here?
Is the ham genuine Parma? Can we possibly cook up a ridiculous ham conspiracy
theory involving large multinational corporations? Where is Fox Mulder when
we need him? [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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