“Parmigiano Reggiano is naturally lactose free. The absence of lactose is a natural consequence of the traditional Parmigiano Reggiano manufacturing process. Less than 0.01g / 100g galactose.”

This is the wording that can be written on the labels of Parmigiano Reggiano packaging, following the decisions of the Italian Ministry of Health.

Indeed, in June 2016, the Italian Ministry of Health issued a circular (no. 24708) authorising the use of a specific wording to claim the natural absence of lactose in dairy products. It was then the same Ministry that established a specific wording for cheese with a lactose content below 0.1g/100g.

There are natural microbiological conditions for which lactose is absent in Parmigiano Reggiano from the very first days.

Lactose is a sugar that is normally present in milk. In the Parmigiano Reggiano production process, lactose is fermented by the microflora of lactic acid bacteria during the first 48 hours following production. This is the so-called lactic fermentation, during which lactic bacteria, normally present in milk, turn lactose sugar into lactic acid during the first two days following production.

Scientific research confirms these statements.

  • The research study carried out by the Consortium on the evolution of glycolysis shows that 48 hours after production 0.004g/100g of lactose are found in the wheel (Pecorari and others, 2003)
  • Also the studies carried out by Giovanni Valentino Coppa of the Università Politecnica delle Marche using a more sensitive system of analysis demonstrated that Parmigiano Reggiano is free from lactose, to which an increasing number of people is (even seriously) intolerant. The tests made by Professor Coppa on several samples of Parmigiano Reggiano - which was analysed at different degrees of maturation, namely from 1 to 36 months - showed that its lactose content was more than one hundred times lower than the level found by Pecorari and others.
  • Moreover, the Consortium periodically tests random samples of Parmigiano Reggiano to check for lactose content. Samples are collected both during quality inspection operations (on cheese from 9 months of maturation onwards) and when purchasing Parmigiano Reggiano directly from the market (therefore with maturations of more than 12 months).

In all the samples tested by the Consortium, the lactose values were always lower than the level of detection of the method (LOD = 0.01g/100g) confirming repeatedly the above-mentioned studies and the fact that maturation does not affect the content of lactose present in Parmigiano Reggiano.

Furthermore, the Consortium created the graphic symbol “100% natural” that can be used on the packaging of Parmigiano Reggiano intended for the Italian market to remind consumers that Parmigiano Reggiano is not only naturally lactose free, but also without preservatives.

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