The main objectives of the Consortium are to safeguard the product's link with the territory and defend the autochthonous microbiological heritage as an expression of biodiversity

Turin, 31 May 2006 - Parmigiano-Reggiano is participating as official sponsor at the 2006 edition of Salone del Gusto in Turin, due to take place from 26 to 30 October. The Consortium has supported this event from its outset, and will be present for the fifth consecutive edition of the food exhibition organised by Slow Food. The movement promoting Turin's Salone del Gusto and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Consortium share a number of common objectives, such as defending links with the territory, safeguarding the autochthonous microbiological heritage as an expression of biodiversity and protecting the local communities gathered around the cheese producers.
"Parmigiano-Reggiano", declares Giuseppe Alai, president of the Consortium "is an expression of its homeland. Indeed the 462 cheese producers that exclusively produce our cheese in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the left of the river Reno and Mantua to the right of the river Po only use local milk, collected each day, morning and evening, immediately after the cows have been milked. In this way the milk maintains its wealth of lactic ferments alive. During the long maturation period, these in turn will transfer the distinguishing aroma and flavour characteristics to the cheese".
"The Consortium's collaboration with Slow Food to safeguard Indicazione Geografica (Geographical Indication) products", Alai continues, "goes beyond the Salone food fair. Indeed we are amongst the supporting members of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, of which the Consortium is also the didactic headquarters. Moreover, we have been taking part in Cheese at Bra since the very start. It was at this very event last year that Slow Food and the Consortium organised a Seminar in Pollenzo concerning autochthonous ferments entitled "autochthonous is best": a reflection on the value of natural ferments that give typical products their distinguishing characteristics. Indeed the fact that all physical or chemical treatments that "sterilise" the raw materials have been ruled out makes it possible to avoid adding ferments selected artificially in the lab. In this way, the link between the final product and its area of origin is maintained intact, namely the link of biodiversity".
"It is for this reason that the Consortium has signed the "Raw milk manifesto" promoted by Slow Food", Giuseppe Alai continues, "and it has specified a series of standards in the Parmigiano-Reggiano production guidelines originating from the techniques used by the cheese producers that put this philosophy into practice. These regulations govern raw milk which is obtained from cows fed without fermented (ensiled) fodders. It is collected immediately after each milking and is processed without adding any additives or preservatives; only natural whey starter cultures and calves' rennet is used. The combination of these practices results in a cheese which can only become Parmigiano-Reggiano and undergo a longer maturation period, once salt has been added and the cheese has been left to mature in natural conditions for at least 12 months. All of these regulations and practices apply in the establishments of all the cheese producers making Parmigiano-Reggiano. They are part of daily life which involve greater cost but at the same time also increase the distinctive value of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese".
The combination of these praxes guarantees the craftsmanship involved in production. The Parmigiano-Reggiano wheels are obtained each day of the various seasons and from cheese producers located throughout the area comprising mountains, hills and plains. Taken individually, the cheese producers often express a local microcosm because the milk is collected from the producers in the surrounding area; thus the microbiological selection will be typical of a particular area. The qualities are the result of the close symbiosis between the milk and the manual dexterity of the master cheese makers. Indeed following their long maturation period, the wheels acquire specific sensory characteristics. Thus the structure, aromas and flavours of Parmigiano-Reggiano are extremely varied and should be analysed through tastings. A young 12-15 month Parmigiano-Reggiano will have a somewhat elastic structure and a delicate flavour reminiscent of the taste of milk, whilst classic Parmigiano-Reggiano matured for 24 months and over expresses its distinctive potential with a structure that is crumbly, soluble and grainy, with the presence of typical white tyrosine crystals and an intense, persistent aroma with overtones of dried fruit.
These characteristics are the result of a diversified production system which has been unified by the Consortium. Founded in 1934, from its outset the Consortium has dealt with protecting the brand and the denomination, safeguarding the typicality of the production, raising awareness of specific types of Parmigiano-Reggiano and promoting its consumption. It is with this awareness of its background that the Consortium is participating in Salone del Gusto to present these different characteristics to the Slow Food public and allow them to taste them straight out of the open wheel of cheese. For at the Consortium's stand, the individual cheese producers participating in the event will take turns to open a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, which will then be offered to the public on a guided tasting tour with an end to presenting this world of varying characteristics. This variability is indeed the best guarantee of the craftsmanship involved in making non-standardised Parmigiano-Reggiano.