I'll put it to the test: Do you buy a €30.00 wine without a label at a liquor store?

Why do people still buy ham with only the name: Pata Negra?

You cannot recognize the quality of an Iberian - Ibérico ham just by looking at the hoof.

Not all information can be seen in the hoof. The hams and shoulders must have a color label that provides important information about the product.

These color labels say something about the identity of the ham. So it is very important! For example, in the color labels we can see the percentage of Iberian race. What food the pig ate, its state of health and the conditions in which it lived. This allows you to determine the quality of the ham.

Since when are the color labels in the Ibérico Ham and Ibérico Shoulder mandatory?

In 2014, the Spanish quality standard for Ibérico meat, Ibérico ham, Ibérico shoulder and Ibérico loin came into effect.  

This legislation of Royal Decree 4/2014 of January 10 was published in the Spanish Official Gazette (BOE) number 10, dated January 11, 2014.

Reference: BOE-A-2014-318 The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Who arranges that? The inspection is carried out by ASICI (Asociación interprofesional del cerdo ibérico) – the interprofessional association of the Iberian pig https://www.iberico.com

A legislation from 2014, now 6 years later it is still an unknown law in the Netherlands and also in other countries.

Maybe because this law was published in Spanish? Maybe because it contains 17 pages? Who knows…

But what exactly does this Spanish government regulation mean? Why is this standard important?

First and foremost, it serves to protect consumers against misinformation and fraud!

This legislation contributes to better consumer information about the labeling and presentation of Ibérico products. In addition, by proposing a higher level of quality and control, the intention is that the statements on the labels correspond to the products on which they are hung.

With regard to the marketing of products, special emphasis is placed on improving the information that consumers find on the label of the Iberian product they have just purchased.

Back to the color labels mentioned in the Legislation 4/2014, we are going to learn what is stated in CHAPTER IV: Identification and traceability of the products in the Article 9: Identification of the channels and marking of the parts.

At the slaughterhouse, the hams and shoulders of each batch of Iberian pig products slaughtered after the entry into force of this Royal Decree are identified by an inviolable label of a different color for each sales denomination:

– Black: Jamón/paleta de Bellota 100% Ibérico

Where the pigs 100% must be pure Iberian breed, free range in the dehesa, fed with acorns for at least one montanera or 60 days.

– Red: Jamón / paleta de Bellota Ibérico (50%- 75%)

Crossbred pigs (50 or 75% Iberian) free-range in the dehesa dduring the fattening period (montanera) fed with acorns - at least 60 days by law.

– Green: Jamón / paleta de Cebo de Campo Ibérico

The law indicates that this animal had to spend the last part of its life in the countryside, but limited space per pig does not indicate where it spent the first part of its life. Here we also usually find crossbred pigs, 50% Iberian, 50% Duroc.

– White: Jamón / paleta de Cebo ibérico

Animals that are never in the countryside at any time of their lives, and are fattened in the stables. Generally they are crossbred pigs, 50% Iberian, 50% Duroc.

And now… so you know why the colors are so important?

I would like to end with the words of Manuel Lamela Fernández – Regional Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs of the Community of Madrid

Published in the Public Health Technical Documents “El Jamón Ibérico” – Ibérico ham. Production and consumption. Situation in the Community of Madrid and promotion of its quality.

“Only on the basis of this knowledge can we initiate more specific tasks aimed at providing consumers with real and complete information and the right criteria so that they can make an adequate choice when making their purchase, and at giving entrepreneurs better knowledge of the regulations and technological practices that affect this sector. On the other hand, the monitoring and control measures of public authorities will be more effective in terms of protecting citizens, as information is better shared by everyone, economic operators, consumers and public authorities.

It is necessary to emphasize the importance and effort made by the managing entities of the various designations of origin in everything that affects the production, control and marketing of this so emblematic food. It is necessary to strengthen our cooperation with them, as well as with the rest of the sectoral agents and the various bodies involved, in order to set up the necessary mechanisms and actions to provide consumers with proper protection and adequate information“.

Don Manuel Lamela Fernández