Parmigiano Reggiano: 300.000 wheels impacted by earthquake
In addition to dairies with damaged facilities, many more have suffered damage due to wheels falling.
Reggio Emilia, Italy, May 21, 2012 - Significant damage were caused by the earthquake that, last Sunday at 4 am, struck the areas of Bologna, Modena and Mantua, where there are several dairies producing Parmigiano Reggiano. At this moment, the technicians of the Consortium's Provincial Offices are contacting all the dairies in order to accurately assess damage. For the time being, we know that there are about 10 production and maturation facilities that have been damaged, but many more dairies have been impacted due to cheese wheels falling to the ground. At the moment it comes to a total of about 300,000 wheels affected by the earthquake. The next few hours will be important to know the actual damages and how much of this cheese cannot be sold for consumption, even if there is an initial estimate of about 150,000 damaged wheels.
With regard to facilities, a processing plant has been damaged, which yesterday transferred production to neighbouring dairies, but the most serious damage concerned maturing facilities. In some cases, the shelving frames (the so-called "scalere"), on which the cheese wheels are placed to mature have collapsed; in other dairies these frames have withstood the earthquake and the wheels fell directly to the ground.
In some cases, the wheels affected can certainly be retrieved and moved to other maturing facilities to complete maturation. On the other hand, only part of the wheels that have been damaged can be properly re-used in the short term, after obtaining the relevant health authorization. In this case, only the cheese wheels that have already passed the quality control examination and 12 months of age can be consumed as Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, while the wheels under 12 months of age will be used for industrial purposes, such as the production of melted cheese or food preparations.