The new ruling on the classification of Iberian pork products was published by the Spanish government last Friday (25th January) after more than a year of negotiations between different sectors of the industry. The ruling covers hams, cured loins and fresh meat. There are now three principal classifications for how the animals are fed: acorn-fed, free-range with animal feed and intensively farmed with animal feed. Acorn-fed animals are free-range animals that eat acorns during the acorn season which is normally between mid-October and late February.
Also, for the first time labels will indicate 100% iberico or just iberico when Iberian pigs are crossed with other breeds (noramlly Duroc). In the case of cross breeding the percentage of Iberian pig has to be indicated on the label, be it 50% (minimum allowed), 75%, etc. This ruling on the purity of the breed has been fought for in the traditional areas where larger numbers of Iberian pigs are acorn-fed, i.e. the western part of Andalucia and Extremadura.
Producers of intensively farmed animals will also not be able to use labels or names that would suggest their pigs were free-range acorn-fed animals. This means no pictures of oak trees or acorns on the label.
It is hoped that the new legislation will help consumers in distinguishing the higher quality pure bred acorn-fed products from others. Hopefully, this will be the case.