Production guidelines

Italian pigs
The Italian pigs from which Prosciutto di San Daniele comes must be born, bred and slaughtered exclusively in the following 10 Italian regions: Friuli Venezia Giulia,Veneto, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo.

They must belong to the following traditional genotypes: Large White (I) and Landrace (I) breeds, as improved by the Italian Genealogical Register, and Duroc (I) cross-breeds. (The ending (I) indicates the Italian genetics of the reproducers).

To be included in the "protected production circuit" (Guidelines of the San Daniele Protected Denomination of Origin), the breeders must be recognised and codified by the "authorized body" beforehand.

To this end, the breeders submit a special request to the Inspection Institute; once the relevant verifications have been carried out, this Institute assigns to each individual breeder an alphanumerically based identification code, and provides the breeder with appropriate paper media, pre-numbered and pre-codified, essential for issuing certificates.

The recognised breeder applies an indelible stamp to the rear thighs of each pig, within the 30th day of its birth; this reproduces the identification code of the farm of origin and the alphabetical code used depending on the pig's month of birth.

The farm's facilities and equipment must guarantee conditions of well-being for the animals.

The pigs must be fed according to a prescribed diet, both with regard to type of food and quantity/proportion.

The breeders must apply a tattoo to both rear thighs of the piglets; the tattoo shows the univocal identification code of the farm and the month of birth.

The breeders must certify the adult pig before slaughter.

The pig must be at least nine months old at the time of slaughter and weigh around 160 kg on average.


The thighs
Abattoirs that wish to supply fresh pig thighs intended for the production of Prosciutto di San Daniele, which are located within the area of the 10 Italian regions specified above, must send a request to the Inspection Institute in order to obtain special recognition.

The request is accompanied by documentation affirming the possession of health authorisation, as well as the sanitary requirements demanded by the current regulations.

Once the Inspection Institute has carried out the necessary verifications, it assigns an identification code to the abattoir and provides one or more stamps for application to the fresh pig thighs intended for the production of Prosciutto di San Daniele.

After slaughtering, the pig thighs must not undergo any preservation treatment - apart from refrigeration - including freezing. Refrigeration means that the pig thighs must be preserved at an internal temperature varying between -1 °C and +4 °C, in the storage and transport phases.

It is not permitted to process pig thighs obtained from pigs slaughtered less than 24 hours ago or more than 120 hours ago.

Requirements for the thighs:
-  They must have a minimum weight of 12 kg (an adequate weight of meat is essential for correct maturation);
-  They must have the correct quantity of intramuscular fat and a minimum covering of fat ( no less than 1.5 cm, and the fat must comply with certain quality parameters, such as percentage of linoleic acid and iodine number); the fat must have the correct consistency;
- The meat must be of an appropriate colour, neither pale nor dark;
- They must be segmented in accordance with the traditional technique and have the traditional "zampino" (lower section with trotter).
The slaughterer is required to brand an indelible stamp onto the fresh pig thighs, which have been provided with a stamp or stamps by the breeder as well as a copy of the prescribed certification.
The indelible stamp reproduces the identification code of the abattoir at which slaughter occurred, and is imprinted on the rind.

The slaughterer is required to provide with each individual batch of fresh thighs, to which he has applied his stamp, an original or copy of the certification obtained from the breeder from which the relevant pigs originated.

If the certification originally issued by the breeder refers to pigs whose thighs are intended for separate consignments, the slaughterer is required to provide with each individual consignment of fresh thighs a copy of the certification, attached to a summary document or other documents required by the authorised body and drawn up or transmitted according to its instructions.

Where applicable, recognised meat cutting operations are subject to the same slaughtering obligations set out by the Guidelines, and supplement the specified documentation with a photocopy of the documents which, in accordance with the current administrative and sanitary regulations, have accompanied the transfer of the sides or other cuts from another recognised abattoir.

The slaughterers are required to allow any form of inspection intended to ascertain the exact fulfilment of the obligations placed on them by the Guidelines, including the inspections necessary to verify the suitability of the premises and equipment, as well as observance of the production requirements.

Operators, breeders and slaughterers, in relation to whom serious non-conformities and illegitimacies are ascertained, including false declarations or falsifications, are punished in accordance with the current regulations and, in particular, in accordance with the legislative decree of 19th November 2004, no. 297.


Isolation and chilling
The fresh pig thighs are unloaded from the motor vehicle which has transferred them from the abattoir and immediately subjected to the necessary controls;
the fresh thighs considered suitable are then transferred to a special storeroom, where they remain in order to standardize the temperature conditions of the meat to around 0° C;
this procedure enables better preparation of the meat for the subsequent operations.

Chilling is followed by trimming, which consists in the removal of fat parts and muscular portion on the inner side of the thigh;
this procedure allows:
    a) the correction of any cutting imperfections, as regards the procedures described by the Guidelines;
    b) the facilitation of optimal conditions for the subsequent action of salt penetration;
    c) the identification of any detrimental technical conditions for the purposes of subsequent processing.

The trimmed thighs are then subjected to salting, which is carried out using the following procedure.
The thighs are sprinkled with salt "ad libitum", so that the exposed surface of the inner side is covered. The thigh is kept horizontal for this operation.
As a first step, the thighs are massaged by manual or mechanical means, to prepare the meat to receive the salt, and to check that the blood has been fully drained from the meat, using appropriate pressure points.
Sea salt is used exclusively for salting, as the use of other chemical substances, preservatives and additives is completely prohibited throughout the preparation.
The salting process dosage period is based on the average weight of the batch being processed, being defined as one day for each kilogram of weight of the relevant size.
The salted thighs, constantly kept horizontal, are placed in a special storeroom, where they remain at high humidity conditions and at a temperature varying between  3° and 0° C for the period indicated above, suspended halfway through for the following purposes.
Halfway through the set salting period the thighs are removed from the storeroom, and so-called "ripasso" or revision is carried out, i.e. the residual salt is removed from the surface, the massage is repeated, and finally, further salt is sprinkled on, in accordance with the previously described procedures.
The salted thigh is replaced in the storeroom and remains there until the process is complete, under the same environmental conditions.

The thigh is removed from the storeroom and brushed to remove the residual salt.
In this state the thigh is subjected to pressing, a procedure comprising the application of a uniform pressure to the muscular mass, which is reduced in thickness and finally assumes a basically squashed guitar shape.
The force necessary for pressing is applied using mechanical or pneumatic devices, with a perpendicular action in relation to the thigh.
The duration of the procedure varies depending on the pressure applied, and is carried out in special rooms kept at a constant temperature and humidity.
The purposes of the pressure are:
    a) application of a further stimulus to the draining of the femoral vein and its branches;
    b) settling of the fat part in relation to the lean part which, among other things, facilitates the function of penetration of the salt;
    c) the thickness of the muscular mass is reduced, subject to osmotic phenomena which are produced in the course of the subsequent phases.

After pressing, the salted thighs are placed in a special room, for a period of between 60 and 90 days, depending on the size and the technological requirements, under humidity conditions varying between 70 and 80% and a temperature between 4°C and 6°C.
During the course of the resting phase, the absorbed salt penetrates inside the meat, with gradual homogeneity, distributing itself uniformly. The function required for the continuation of the dehydration process, commenced with the treatment with the salt and the low temperatures, takes effect.

Once the "resting" phase is complete, the thigh is subjected to final "washing" by means of brushing or the application of jets of water (mixed with air) to the outer surface.
As well as having a generally revitalising effect, the washing removes all superficial formations produced during salting and resting as a result of dehydration, and tones the outer tissues. Before washing, the thighs are "groomed" and trimmed superficially to compensate for the effects of the weight loss that has occurred.

After washing, the thighs are transferred to environments where a further "recovery" of the meat takes place in higher humidity conditions (around 90°) and at temperatures varying between 15° and 24° C, for a period of 7-8 days.
The variability of the values is related to the subsequent treatment techniques, namely maturation.
This can be preceded by a PRE-MATURATION phase lasting 35 - 40 days, in which the process of recovery-acclimatisation of the meat continues at initial temperatures varying between 12° - 14° and final temperatures between 14° - 19°, in gradually decreasing humidity conditions.

After drying and pre-maturation, if applicable, the hams or "prosciutti" - as they are correctly called at this point, rather than pig thighs - are transferred to special maturation rooms. These environments have largely natural humidity and temperature conditions, thanks to the existence and frequent opening of the numerous windows with which they are equipped, positioned to have a transverse function in relation to the placement of the hams, which are thus continuously supplied with natural aeration.
Only when the external climatic and environmental conditions present irregularities or anomalies in comparison with normal seasonal trends is it permitted to use "domestic" air conditioning equipment - devices using external air, at any rate.
During the course of maturation, biochemical and enzymatic processes take place in the meat, which complete the process of preservation induced by the preceding processes, determining the characteristic organoleptic properties, thanks to the effect of the natural external environment (reduced humidity and natural ventilation, which determine the aroma and flavour of the product).
Thus no specific processing procedure takes place during maturation, except for the so-called "sugnatura" (or "stuccatura") - smearing, performed once or twice by covering the surface of the exposed portion of prosciutto with a paste comprising lard, salt, pepper and cereal derivatives, applied finely and uniformly by means of manual massage.
The technical functions of this preparation and its application exclusively comprise softening the exposed external surface of the rind and, at the same time, protecting it from external agents, without compromising the continuation of the osmotic action. For this reason, Italian legislation does not consider the "sugna" or lard an ingredient (article 18, para. 3, of the decree of 16th February 1993, no. 298).
During maturation and after completion of this process, it is forbidden to add any substance or to repeat any preceding treatment, except for smearing and final washing if required. Smoking of the product is not permitted, and any forced maturation procedure is forbidden.
The minimum period for the duration of the total production process, from salting to completion of maturation, is defined as follows.
As the duration of the process is traditionally adapted to the unit average weight indicated by the batch, for the purposes of the Guidelines the minimum processing period falls in the thirteenth month after salting.


When maturation is complete, Prosciutto di San Daniele presents the following characteristics:
    a) external guitar shape, comprising the distal part (trotter), dependent on the prescribed methods for preparation of the fresh pig thigh.
    b) the meat presents the correct degree of tenderness, verifiable by inserting a probe and by cutting.
    c) the fat part is perfectly white and is in correct proportion to the lean part.
    d) the lean portion appears pink and red in colour, with some veining.
    e) the flavour is delicately sweet, with a more marked aftertaste.
    f) the aroma is fragrant and characteristic, depending on the prescribed maturation period.
    Prosciutto di San Daniele is also characterised by observance of the following parameters, verified by means of chemical analysis and with reference to the requirements of the centesimal composition of a fraction of the biceps femoris muscle, recorded prior to application of the marking.
    g) the percentage humidity, must not be less than 57%, nor greater than 63%.
    h) the quotient of the ratio between the percentage composition of sodium chloride and percentage humidity (expressed in numerical values multiplied by 100), must not be less than 7.8 nor greater than 11.2.
    i) the quotient of the ratio between percentage humidity and the percentage composition in total proteins must not be less than 1.9 nor greater than 2.5.
    l) the proteolysis index (percentage composition of the nitrogenous fractions soluble in trichloroacetic acid  - TCA - in relation to the total nitrogen content) must be no greater than 31.


Control organization specified by EU Regulation no. 1151/2012
All phases of the production process are monitored, documenting the inputs and outputs for each one. In this way, and through the registration in special lists - managed by the control organization - of breeders, slaughterers, cutters, producers, seasoners, portioners/slicers, as well as through prompt declaration to the control organization of the quantities produced and in compliance with the obligations specified in the preceding schedules and in the inspection plan, traceability of the product is guaranteed. All natural persons or corporations registered in the relevant lists are subject to monitoring by the control organization, in accordance with the provisions of the Production Guidelines, the relevant approved inspection plan and the relevant application measures.