Do you know what DOP

means and why it matters?


Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the few products that has earned the right to use the DOP acronym after its name. This is a significant legal designation issued by the European Union – however, in the US it is not always used – which is why it is often not understood. In this article you will learn what DOP means and why it is important if you care about authenticity.

Three letters that represent important traditions

In Italian the letters DOP stand for “Di Origine Protetta”, which translates into: “Protected Designation of Origin.” As the name suggests, this designation indicates that the products are locally grown and packaged. It also represents a legal guarantee that the food was made by local farmers and artisans, using traditional age-old methods.

The DOP designation is used for a variety of food products, including balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salami, prosciutto and, of course, Parmigiano Reggiano.

In the US the DOP logo is sometimes featured on individually-wrapped slices of Parmigiano Reggiano.

DOP certification is a guarantee of artisanal tradition

The DOP certification for Parmigiano Reggiano is the equivalent of a legal guarantee by the European Union that the product is “authentic”. In order to earn this certification, the entire process – from the milking of the cows to the aging of the finished product – must take place exclusively in the specific region in Italy that is included in the Parmigiano Reggiano DOP mandates.

Parmigiano Reggiano is subject to strict rules and regulations that are carefully monitored to ensure the highest possible quality standards. In order to be called Parmigiano Reggiano, the cheese must be made with the same three natural ingredients that have been used for over 900 years – and it can’t contain any additives or preservatives. In contrast, some cheeses sold in the US have been found to include additives, like cellulose. Also, Parmigiano Reggiano must be aged for at least 12 months before it can be sold in stores, while other hard cheeses don’t have an aging requirement – which is why they are often less complex in flavor and aroma.