Parmigiano-Reggiano makers are putting edible microchips the size of a grain of sand into their 90-pound cheese wheels to combat counterfeiters
- Makers of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Italy are adding microchips to their cheese wheels.
- It’s the latest move to combat counterfeiters selling rip offs of the premium product.
- The chips, which are edible and placed on a food-safe label, cannot be read remotely.
The next time you dig into a bowl of pasta with freshly grated parmesan, you could accidentally be eating a microchip.
That’s because makers of Parmigiano-Reggiano are implanting microchips into the casings of their 90-pound cheese wheels as the latest move to ward off counterfeiters, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Yes, there are counterfeiters of Parmigiano-Reggiano. That’s because it’s the original parmesan cheese officially protected by the European Union, meaning the name can only be used for the authentic product. Parmigiano-Reggiano must be made in a particular area of northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna region and with specific production standards and techniques. It also has to be aged for at least one year.
Because of its world-famous reputation for quality, Parmigiano-Reggiano can be sold at a higher price point than cheese simply labeled “parmesan,” which is typically an imitation of the original and is commonly sold in the US.
The Journal reported that the micro-transponders are made of silicon and about the size of a grain of sand. They are being placed on the casein label, a food-safe label commonly used in cheese production, which is placed on the cheese wheel. The microchip can then be scanned to pull up a unique serial ID that buyers can use to ensure they’ve got the real thing.
“We keep fighting with new methods,” Alberto Pecorari, whose job is to protect the product’s authenticity for a group that represents Parmigiano makers, told the Journal. “We won’t give up.”
The chips use blockchain technology and trace the wheel of cheese back to where the milk that was used came from. Other industries are also considering or planning to use the chips, including makers of drugs and car parts.
The Journal reported the chips cannot be read remotely or used to track someone should they ingest it.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is among the many food products that are formally protected in the European Union, including Champagne from France and Feta from Greece.