The letters P.G.I. stand for “protected geographical information”. The European Union awards this designation to select products that are being manufactured in compliance with a traditional method in a certain area. Since 1996, the designation “Speck Alto Adige P.G.I.” has been reserved for ham produced in South Tyrol only from the pig thigh in compliance with traditional processes. The principle for this production method is and has always been “use a little salt, a little smoke and lots of fresh mountain air – and be even more generous with the time you give it.” The speck may be given the South Tyrol origins designation only if all of these quality criteria are met and provided the ham has passed all inspections.
To ensure compliance with these quality standards, a protection alliance was established as early as 1992 under the name of “Speck Alto Adige Consortium.” Only producers who contractually undertake to comply with the ham production process that adheres to the traditional methods and who subject themselves to stringent inspections are permitted to produce Speck Alto Adige. In joint efforts with the independent auditing institute INEQ (Istituto Nord Est Qualità), the Speck Alto Adige Consortium has developed a system that monitors compliance with the quality criteria every step of the way as the ham smoking process is completed: it covers everything from the choice of meat to the smoking of the ham down to the finished speck product. Besides the time to maturity, ratio of lean and fatty meat as well as the salt content, the inspectors also verify the appearance, consistency, aroma and the taste.
As a matter of fact, Speck Alto Adige P.G.I. is one of the most intensively tested quality products in Italy: about a third of all ham hocks are checked at regular intervals by independent inspectors during the smoked ham production process. Of the 6.4 million speck ham hocks produced in South Tyrol, only about 40% are awarded the coveted seal of approval. This is certain proof for the strictness and effectiveness of the quality inspections. When you shop for speck, look for the Speck Alto Adige P.G.I. seal of approval, which is instantly recognizable as a logo on a green label.