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New Classifications for Ibérico Ham

Posted August 17, 2016

Soon you will be able to tell the quality of an Ibérico ham by glancing at a tag attached to each leg!  Spain passed a law in 2014 to certify the breed, feed and lifestyle of each jamon to protect this finest of hams from confusing and sometimes fraudulent labeling practices.

There will be four colors to quickly inform customers of the breed and feed of the hams: black for pure breed Ibérico pigs that have been fed 100% on sweet acorns (bellotas) in the oak forests of the dehesa; red for cross-breeds that have similarly lived outside eating acorns; green for free ranging cross-breeds not fed acorns; and white for mixed-breed animals fed on grains in enclosures. A fifth color, brown, applies to animals fed on a mix of acorns and grains, a category the new law has eliminated but that will remain in circulation until current stocks expire.

When will you see these color coded hams in the US?  Because Jamón Ibérico and Jamón Ibérico de Bellota hams take up to five years to cure, there will be a transition period when many hams will not be color coded.  It is estimated that by 2019, all Ibérico hams will be coded following the new rules.