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Spain Changes Iberico Labeling Rules

Posted March 02, 2013

The Spanish government has changed the labeling requirements for cured iberico hams.  Starting this year, all hams must clearly state the percentage of pure breed iberico pigs sourced to make the product.  This will hopefully clean up a significant amount of misinformation that has been pervasive in the industry for the past decade.  Puro Iberico will be labeled as 100% Iberico, meaning that both the sow and boar are pure breeds.

Unfortunately, hams with only 50% iberico will be allowed to be called 'Jamon Iberico.'  Though this is not a change from the prior rule, it is a missed opportunity to raise the quality level of the classification.

Another significant change is the elimination of the Recebo quality.  Hams must now fall into three classfications, having to do with the diet of the animals and where they live.  The highest quality is 'Bellota de Campo', designating acorn finished and free range.  'Cebo de Campo' is the term for free range, grain fed pigs and 'Cebo Intensivo' is for the lowest quality, grain-fed, factory farmed pigs.  Recebo was a confusing classification for pigs that ate some acorns but had to be finished on grain to make market weight.  As one can imagine, this led to wild swings in quality.