Earthquakes in Italy Damage 608,000 Wheels of Cheese
We were deeply saddened to hear of the second earthquake earlier this week in Northern Italy, just over a week after the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that shook the region on May 20th. Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones, as well as with the injured and homeless, and we hope for a safe rebuilding period for the region.
The Parmigiano Reggiano industry sustained serious damage from the first earthquake, as we know, and we received this report from the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano this morning.
Information supplied by Nancy Radke, Director, U.S. Information Office Consorzio Del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano and webmaster of www.Parmesan.com
The Consorzio thanks all for helping during this disaster and demonstrating concern for the affected cheese houses. These are a few responses to questions being asked.
What are the current damage estimates?
The two earthquakes (one on May 20 and one on May 29) have damaged 24 cheese houses and aging facilities.
The quake on May 29 caused more cheese to fall from aging facility shelves as the shelving in new locations tipped over. Four aging ware houses in the province of Mantua, 2 in the province of Modena and 6 in the province of Reggio Emilia were newly affected.
The quake of May 20 caused damage in one cheese making facility to the point that Parmigiano Reggiano could not be made in that facility until damage is repaired.
The quake of May 29 caused damage of the same degree to 1 cheese house in Mantua and 3 in the province of Modena bringing the total number of disabled cheese houses to 5.
The quake of May 29 caused another 311,000 wheels to fall bringing the total number of wheels affected and in need of sanitary and professional inspection to around 608,000, about 10% of the aging stocks which have a 24 month average cycle from production to final sale. Of this about half will be able to be given further aging. Of the remaining 304,000 with exterior and/or interior cracks all are being sent immediately to refrigerated warehouses to await testing and determination of how they can best utilized. Uncertified wheels will be immediately declassified and sent as common hard grating cheese to food processors. Certified wheels will be sent to licensed grating and portioning facilities to be packaged and sold as certified pre-pack Parmigiano Reggiano.
After the quakes will there be a scarcity of Parmigiano Reggiano?
No, Even the affected cheese houses with substantial damage, have transferred production of Parmigiano Reggiano to their neighboring fellow Parmigiano Reggiano producers' cheese houses. The cheese will continue to be made according the strict standards for Parmigiano Reggiano set forth by Italian Law and the EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system. Parmigiano Reggiano wheels will continue to be tested by Consorzio professional testers and marked officially. The black wheel and wedge logo will be applied to prepackaged Parmigiano Reggiano that has been certified by the Consorzio along with the red and yellow PDO seal.
Even though the Consorzio is putting out appeals for people to contact the cheese houses directly affected to buy cracked cheese, this is only a very local initiative. People may only buy cheese if they line up directly at the affected cheese houses, as the cheese cannot be shipped. Donation possibilities are in the works, but not available at this time.