La FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO ESPAÑOL currently comprises one hundred ham-producing industries in 13 regions of Spain with the aim of promoting, distributing and preserving the Jamón Serrano designation protected as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) at Community level. Of the 45 top ham-producing companies in Spain in terms of volume, 33 pertain to the FUNDACIÓN.
To fulfill this goal, THE COMPANIES IN THE FUNDACIÓN USE A COUNTER LABEL which is the image of quality and control for Serrano hams produced by member companies, providing a link and marketing tool for their products.
The counter label on Fundación Serrano hams not only certifies that THE PRODUCT MEETS THE QUALITY STANDARDS established in the TSG specifications sheets, but also GUARANTEES A MINIMUM CURING PERIOD FOR EACH PIECE, VERIFIED BY INDEPENDENT CONTROL BODIES.
Serrano hams bearing the FUNDACIÓN counter label therefore OFFER A DOUBLE GUARANTEE: compliance with TSG standards and conformity with the FUNDACIÓN'S own controls, which guarantee curing periods. SERRANO HAMS BEARING THE FUNDACIÓN SEAL PROVIDE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND A CURING GUARANTEE, WHICH REPRESENTS ESSENTIAL VALUE FOR CONSUMERS and helps to further refine the Serrano ham market.
La FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO ESPAÑOL closed the 2011 fiscal year with an 8.7% INCREASE IN TRADE VOLUME FOR PRODUCTS BEARING THE FUNDACIÓN LABEL as compared to the previous year, which means that our member companies sold an equivalent of 2.5 million pieces from our various categories in all formats.
Growth was registered both for SLICED HAM AND PORTIONS (+7.1%), which, in line with recent trends in the food and drink market, have shown the greatest increase over the past years, and for consumption of WHOLE PIECES, which also surmounted a trend towards stabilization with a +12.4% INCREASE. The upward trend was registered IN BOTH PRODUCT CATEGORIES: Reserva (minimum 12 months' curing) and Gran Reserva (15+ months' curing).
These are very positive figures after two exceptionally difficult years in 2009 and 2010, when an overall downturn in consumption, both in and outside the home, greatly affected sales of all types of cured hams. Last year's positive figures allow FUNDACIÓN member companies to face 2012 with greater optimism, both in the domestic and overseas markets.
FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO ESPAÑOL: A Qualitative Boost in Quality
In the past few years, la FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO ESPAÑOL has organized a series of schemes designed to CONSOLIDATE SUPPORT FOR THE HIGHEST QUALITY SERRANO HAM from the group's partner industries, providing the consumer with the fullest guarantee and confidence. This qualitative step forward includes:
- NEW TECHNICAL REGULATIONS FOR THE FUNDACIÓN, WHICH INCLUDE STRICTER REQUIREMENTS FOR RAW MATERIAL, TRACEABILITY SYSTEMS, FINAL PRODUCT CHARACTERISTICS (moisture loss, curing period and physio-chemical and sensory characteristics), and the requirement that the product be cured in Spain.
- ENHANCED OWN QUALITY CONTROL SYSTEMS, BOTH AT THE PRODUCTION CENTER AND AT THE RETAIL OUTLET, WHICH WILL INCLUDE THOUSANDS OF ANNUAL INSPECTIONS so that only the highest quality hams are sold with the FUNDACIÓN counter label. A FUNDACIÓN INSPECTION TEAM is being created to this end, composed of specialists from the most prestigious meat science and technology centers.
In line with these ventures, since July 2008 LA FUNDACIÓN HAS BEEN LABELLING ITS PRODUCTS USING ONLY THE RESERVA (FOR HAMS CURED FOR A MINIMUM OF 12 MONTHS) AND GRAN RESERVA CATEGORIES (HAMS CURED FOR MORE THAN 15 MONTHS), WITH A MINIMUM 11 MONTH CURING PERIOD FOR SLICED HAM. These periods are well above those required by the EC TSG, therefore guaranteeing a high quality ham for consumers.
FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO:
Promoting Our Prooduct
In order to transmit our philosophy of product quality and control, the FUNDACIÓN has been actively promoting our product through INFORMATIVE ACTIVITIES ON THE NUTRITIONAL ASPECTS OF SERRANO HAM (source of protein, vitamins, minerals, good lipid profile), making it an ideal part of a balanced diet.
Such activities include CHILDREN'S CAMPAIGNS, which have yielded outstanding results since we began several years ago. Campaigns have been presented in schools in Andalusia ("Discover the Andalusian Breakfast"), Catalonia ("Serrano Ham - A Taste for Tradition", "Serrano Ham. Serranito and his Friends in Catalonia") and Castilla-La Mancha ("The Adventures of Don Serrano Ham", "Serranito and his Friends in La Mancha").
Other projects include ACTIVITIES AT RETAIL OUTLETS with informative and promotional material, as well as INFORMATIVE WORKSHOPS ON SERRANO HAM WITH MEMBERS OF THE PRESS, RESTAURANT AND CATERING PROFESSIONALS AND CONSUMER MOTIVATORS to inform of the traditional and nutritional characteristics of the product. Information and training seminars were also held with CONSUMER ASSOCIATIONS AND PROFESSIONALS IN THE DELICATESSEN AND DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS, and the Fundación participated in countless cultural, gastronomical and social forums and events.
The presence of FUNDACIÓN hams outside our borders is intensifying through our PARTICIPATION IN IMPORTANT EU AND THIRD COUNTRY TRADE FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS, complemented by INFORMATIVE AND GASTRONOMIC SESSIONS and showrooms for members of the press and professionals in the distribution and catering sectors in both European and non-European countries in coordination with the Spanish Meat Export Office (OECE) and their promotional program.
"ORIGINAL FLAVORS: THE MEDITERRANEAN ESSENCE", IS AN AMBICIOUS THREE-YEAR PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN BEING CARRIED OUT IN POLAND, GERMANY AND DENMARK, subsidized by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the European Commission. It was launched in 2011, together with extra virgin olive oil from Baena and Ribera del Duero wines.
THE FUNDACIÓN ALSO CREATED A NEW CONSUMER-ORIENTED WEBSITE, an ambitious project using the LATEST TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS to encourage direct contact and feedback from consumers, provide information about our product, obtain opinions and respond to questions on the consumption of Serrano Ham.
In 2012 the Fundación is likewise strengthening its PRESENCE THROUGH THE MOST POPULAR SOCIAL NETWORKS, Facebook and Twitter, integrating these with our web content.
FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO:
La FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO ESPAÑOL IS WORKING IN ALL INSTITUTIONAL AREAS to defend both industry and consumer interests in connection with this emblematic product of Spanish cuisine.
With a view to obtaining IMPROVED CONDITIONS IN THE TSG SPECIFICATIONS SHEET and establishing a REPRESENTATIVE BODY FOR THE SERRANO HAM TSG, la Fundación is consulting with the Spanish Administration and the European Commission, and meetings have been held with representatives of the Directorate-General for Agriculture of the European Commission.
The Fundación is likewise working on an alternative, which is to TRANSFORM THE TSG INTO A QUALITY AND PROTECTION FIGURE, SUCH AS THE PROTECTED GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION (PGI).
The FUNDACIÓN PARTICIPATES IN THE LEADING FORUMS OF INTEREST ON QUALITY PRODUCTS, and has likewise been invited on numerous occasions to present the company and its products in various European quality conferences organized by the European Commission and other Community-based institutions.
The FUNDACIÓN has APPEARED NUMEROUS TIMES BEFORE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COMMISSIONS OF FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND ENVIVONMENT OF THE CONGRESS AND THE SENATE to express the sector's concern regarding the future development of the sector to the representatives of both institutions, and participates in the MEAT INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION STEERING COMMITTEE on a regular basis, together with the main institutional and business representatives in the sector. They likewise take part in SECTOR MEETINGS WITH FOREIGN PROMOTION AND TRADE BODIES, as well as with Autonomous Region government administrations.
EL JAMÓN SERRANO:
A Delicacy with Unique Nutritional Characteristics
No food exists which contains all the essential nutrients for our body, but SERRANO HAM COVERS MANY OF THEM IN OUR DAILY DIET, as it has nutritional and organoleptic qualities that make it an ideal part of a balanced diet.
Serrano Ham is an IMPORTANT SOURCE OF PROTEIN, which is of a higher quality than vegetable protein because the composition of the amino acids is quite similar to the composition our body uses to synthesize its own proteins. It also contains all of the essential amino acids which our bodies do not produce, but which we need to survive. It is highly recommendable for children and the elderly, as it favors tissue regeneration.
Serrano Ham PROVIDES GROUP B VITAMINS, especially B1 (0.8 mg/100 g), B2 (0.2 mg/100 g) and niacin, of which 100 grams of ham provide 24% of RDI (recommended daily intake). Serrano ham contributes to proper body metabolism, and good nervous system and brain function.
Serrano Ham IS ALSO RICH IN MINERALS such as iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and phosphorus, providing up to 30% of RDI.
Serrano Ham is LOW IN FAT, with only 4.5%. THE MAJORITY OF FATTY ACID FOUND IN HAM IS OLEIC ACID (the same as in olive oil), with proven healthy cardiovascular effects. This unsaturated fatty acid aids in the production of HDL, the "good cholesterol", and reduces LDL, the "bad cholesterol".
Serrano Ham IS VERY LOW IN CARBOHYDRATES, and 100 grams of ham has only 160 Kcal. This makes it a food that anyone following a balanced or a low-calorie diet can enjoy. It does contain 1.1% salt, which should be kept in mind for people with hypertension.
Because it is cured and produced naturally, Serrano ham contains no artificial colors or flavors, and requires no special conditions for preservation.
FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO
TRADITIONAL CHARACTER OF SERRANO HAM
The earliest written references to the salting of pig meat date from Roman times, towards the end of the second century B.C., and record the customs of the time for salting and preserving "dried pig meat". The recommendations of the time on sacrificing, quartering, salting and drying meat are still in use today, and it was already known at that time that, depending on the climate of the area where the meat was to be processed, it should be salted for a shorter or lengthier period of time.
It was also during the Roman Empire when we find the first indications of ham being cured in Spain, with allusions to the famous Cerretanian hams - "pernac cerretanae" - from Hispania, which appeared in Diocletian's Edict on Prices. The poet Martial also alludes to it in one of his epigrams: "From the country of Cerretania or Menapia, let me have a ham. Let gourmets devour ham." Coins exist from the times of Agustus and Agrippa that allude to ham trade, as found in research done by Professor Juan González Blanco of the University of Granada.
14th century Spanish literature also alludes to the important role ham has played in our country, substantiated through various texts written by the Archpriest of Hita. Later, during the 17th century, universal writers and poets bore testimony in various literary genres of the quality and virtues of ham. Among these we should cite Miguel de Cervantes, in Don Quijote and other works, Lope de Vega in his comedies, Gongora, Tirso de Molina, Baltasar de Alcázar, Mateo Alemán, etc.
Beginning in the second half of the 18th century, and until the present day, Spanish hams have once again received international acclaim, consolidating the quality and fame they enjoyed in ancient times. They have been awarded with countless medals, diplomas and honorable mentions at Universal Expositions, specifically in Paris and Vienna, and form part of the most exquisite realm of European gastronomy.
The current process of producing hams is rooted in the traditional method, which began with sacrificing pigs during the last months of the year (Saint Martin, November 11), benefitting from the coldest months of the year for salting and post-salting, which must be done at low temperatures. The rest of the process is done according to the natural cycle of the seasons, and with the arrival of spring and then summer, temperatures gradually began to warm up. The process currently used for preparing Serrano ham reproduces this traditional method, beginning with an initial salting stage or phase, which is necessary to preserve the product, followed by a maturing-drying stage during which the characteristic flavors and aromas develop through microbiological and enzymatic biochemical activity. This, together with the qualities of the raw material, constitutes the traditional quality of this product and its distinguishing taste and aroma.
METHOD OF PREPARATION
Before the preparation process begins, hams are subjected to the necessary conditions to achieve a maximum temperature of 3ºC inside the piece. They then undergo a pressure process to remove all remaining blood from the veins. Immediately before curing, the hams are marked with a legible and indelible seal indicating the week and the year that salting was begun as reliable proof of the curing period. The ham is processed for a period of not less than 210 days, which shall include the following phases:
-Left to Stand or Post-salting
-Aging or Finishing
The biochemical processes initiated in previous phases continue during this period. Microbiological and enzymatic processes occur to give the ham its characteristic flavor and aroma.
Hams shall remain in this finishing phase as long as required to complete the minimum 210-day production period, beginning with the salting phase and until they have reached a minimum moisture loss of 33% as compared to green (blood-in) weight, unless both of these values were obtained during previous phases.
DESCRIPTION OF CURED PRODUCT CHARACTERISTICS
Fat: Shiny and oily, white to yellowish in color, with a pleasant taste and aroma. The consistency will vary slightly, and is firmer near muscle mass and slightly cushiony near areas of adipose tissue.
Drying index: Maximum moisture content of de-fatted product: 57%, measured at a homogeneous cross-cut portion of the ham, 15 mm thick (±2 mm), taken 4 centimeters from the head of the femur with the rind removed, and a moisture gradient between the external and central part of a maximum of 12%.
Salt content: A maximum sodium chloride content of 15% of defatted, dry extract, measured on the above sample.
Color and Appearance of Cut: Characteristic pink to purple color of lean meat and glossy fat. Homogenous at the cut. No drying of outside surface (hams without rind).
Flavor and Aroma: A delicate-flavored meat which is not salty and which has a pleasant, characteristic aroma. No anomalous smell or flavor.
Texture: Homogenous, not fibrous, doughy or soft.
Presentation: Hams are uniform and homogenous and may be sold in any of the following forms:
Other Commercial Presentations: Other presentations may be obtained based on the above formats.
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that the Technical Specifications are fully complied with. Manufacturers must therefore have written guidance describing the control procedures carried out using statistical criteria, both during the production process and on the finished product. They must also register and maintain all documentation verifying that such controls have been performed, and must present it to certification agencies and the relevant authorities when required. Certification agencies are responsible for auditing the manufacturer's control system and the properties of the final product. The results of the control procedures are then submitted to a certifying committee comprising all interested parties. The committee will assess the results contained in the reports in such a way that the companies being evaluated remain anonymous. As an additional, basic element of verification, the certification bodies must also determine the number of pieces sold by the certified companies using the registered Serrano Ham designation. These bodies shall provide numbered labels in accordance with requests received from certified companies or, where relevant, shall create a reliable control system for the numeration established by the manufacturer. Such numbering is used to ensure that the number of hams sold by each company under the Serrano Ham designation coincides with the number of hams that have been produced and checked in accordance with the Technical Specifications contained in the documentation related to each batch. This control system is applicable for all commercial formats of Serrano ham.
Granting the Certificate of Approval
Certification bodies shall carry out an initial certification of manufacturing companies interested in producing Serrano ham. Interested companies must request said certification in writing from an authorized certification body, thereby committing themselves to fulfilling all requirements contained in the specifications sheet and carrying out the relevant controls to ensure compliance. The interested party must also provide documentation justifying fulfillment of applicable legal and technical and health regulations, as well as the adaptation of their work and control system procedures to fit the requirements contained in the specifications sheet. Once it has been determined that all documentation is in order, the certification body will designate a team of auditors and the certification audit, where the veracity of the information provided will be checked, as well as all documentation, controls carried out by the manufacturer and the properties of the final product. The auditors will then provide an Audit Report. This report, together with the analytic and organoleptic results, will be evaluated by the certification committee, who will assess the interested parties anonymously. The Certificate of Approval will be granted by the committee if the report is favorable, together with the "Traditional Speciality Guaranteed" designation and the European Community symbol. If the report is unfavorable, the interested party must rectify any deficiencies detected before a new request for certification may be made.
Maintaining the Certificate of Approval
Once the Certificate of Approval has been obtained from the certification bodies, periodic monitoring and validation audits shall be carried out, depending on the production volume of the company. During these follow-up audits, compliance with the specifications sheet shall be verified through an audit of the manufacturer's control system and examination of documentation provided by the company; random controls on the various phases of production and on the traceability of different batches; statistical tests on the finished product, both in the factory and in the market.
SERRANO HAM, TRADITIONAL SPECIALITY GUARANTEED (TSG)
The Official Journal of the European Communities L-291, of November 13, 1999, published Regulation 2419/1999, inscribing Serrano Ham in the Register of Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG) in accordance with Council Regulation (EEC) 2082/1992.
Serrano Ham thus became the first Traditional Speciality Guaranteed granted to the Spanish food industry, as well as the first within the European Union with a reserved name (art. 13.2 of Regulation 2082/1992).
In 1992, the European Commission passed Regulation 2082/92, the objective of which is to set apart and protect traditional foodstuffs, granting them the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) designation and the right to use a logo specially designed for identifying these quality products.
Regulation 2082/1992, together with Regulation 2081/1992 on Designation of Origin and Geographical Indications, bear witness to the Community policy of promoting the diversification of agrofood production and the promotion and appreciation of specific products, whether due to product origin, properties or production methods, contributing to enhancing consumer information and knowledge of these products.
The awarding of the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed designation for Serrano Ham is a recognition, both in fact and in law, that Serrano Ham is one of the exceptional products that Spain has contributed to the gastronomic culture of the European Union, and that due to its special properties and intrinsic quality, it deserves the highest distinction and protection that Community legislation can provide: Traditional Speciality Guaranteed.
And this is precisely the goal of the Serrano Ham TSG - to create a collective quality brand, a quality label, which will set Serrano Ham apart from other hams that could be mistaken for this specialty, providing a quality guarantee for the consumer and added value for the products bearing this seal. In order to obtain the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed label for Serrano Ham, a specifications sheet was drawn up to include the minimum quality standards required for a product to be considered Serrano Ham.
Fulfillment of the quality requirements included in the specifications sheet is ensured through audits carried out by certification bodies which must be independent, impartial and efficient. In other words, certified.
The Serrano Ham TSG, unlike ISO-9000 quality assurance standards, currently on the rise, is much more than a process certification - it is a product certification. The first in the Spanish Food Industry.
WHY A TSG FOR SERRANO HAM?
The project to apply for the Serrano Ham TSG came as response to the repeated request of a large majority of sector executives, who appealed to protect, standardize and improve the image of Serrano Ham. The aim of registering Serrano Ham as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed was to address a series of factors that are essential to the future of the sector:
Regulation 2082/92 establishes procedures for requesting and registering a TSG. The request must be made by an association of producers (manufacturers, in this case), who must submit a specifications sheet containing at least the following information:
Once the Serrano Ham designation has been registered, only those manufacturers who fulfill the requirements described in the specifications sheet and have been certified by a control body may use the registered designation "Serrano Ham" and the Community symbol.
Regulation 2082/92 establishes the obligation to set up a control system to guarantee that all products bearing the registered name comply with the conditions established in the specifications sheet. The control system comprises one or more control bodies, all of whom must meet the requirements of standard UNE-EN 45011. The control bodies are responsible for processing applications and granting certification, if applicable, to all companies interested in manufacturing Serrano Ham. Companies that wish to manufacture Serrano Ham are responsible for ensuring that they meet the requirements contained in the specifications sheet. They must therefore establish and maintain a quality assurance system to guarantee that these requirements are indeed met, using the appropriate controls and records.
The control bodies are responsible for auditing certified companies and verifying compliance with the specifications sheet.
THE NEXT STEP
Obtaining the Jamón Serrano TSG seal resolves all of the issues and concerns of the sector mentioned above. Once this goal has been achieved, the Serrano Ham TSG must make an effective contribution to refining the ham sector by becoming a quality guarantee for the consumer, thereby adding value to all the products that bear this seal. It is a well-known fact that a high percentage of consumers in the European Union place great value on products that are protected by a quality label, and are willing to pay more for them. If a high percentage of the 340 million consumers in the Single Market show this appreciation for specific products and associate them with added value, these Regulations will become an extremely valuable tool in the marketing and selling of the products they protect and a useful instrument for improving the competitive position of small and medium businesses.
FUNDACIÓN DEL JAMÓN SERRANO ESPAÑOL
An association was needed to lead and manage the project for implementing the Serrano Ham TSG seal. The CONFECARNE Ham Board, which accounts for more than 77% of cured ham production in Spain, thus decided to create the Fundación del Jamón Serrano, an association designed to bring together Serrano Ham manufacturers and promote the TSG project.
The primary objective of the Fundación is to promote and enhance the knowledge, image and consumption of Serrano Ham through the use and promotion of a Counter Label. The Fundación Counter Label provides a common brand image for Serrano Hams produced by member companies, working as a link and marketing tool for their products.
The counter label on Fundación Serrano Hams not only certifies that the product meets the quality standards established in the TSG specifications sheet, but also guarantees a minimum curing period for each piece, verified by independent control bodies. Serrano Hams bearing the Fundación counter label therefore offer a double guarantee: compliance with TSG standards and conformity with the Fundación's own controls, which guarantee curing periods. Fundación Serrano Hams therefore provide additional information and a curing guarantee, which represents essential value for customs and helps to further refine the Serrano Ham market.