Harmonizing the Laws of Ham

Harmonizing the Laws of Ham

The FDA has approved the import of one Spanish firm’s version of Jamon Iberico Bellota, a cured ham which according to this blog makes prosciutto “taste like shoe leather.” (Don’t expect to see it at your local supermarket, though; at $79 a pound, it’s a little on the pricey side.) (Hat tip: Megnut.)

Why is the U.S. Government so unwilling to undertake an exercise in mutual regulatory trust where it would seem most obviously to apply? (The ham approval is more an matter of applying FDA standards extraterritorially — presumably at some cost to the producers and the American consumer — rather than a case of harmonization, so it isn’t any evidence of a retreat to accepting EU standards.) Unpasteurized cheeses that have been aged less than 60 days appear still to be verboten, creating a strange black market in the stuff on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

One can understand trying to keep tight controls on the importation of goods that might contain pests or spread communicable disease, but to shut out on rather lame health grounds — in these cases, the danger of listeria in infant cheese-eaters and pregnant women, something which could easily be addressed through labelling — foods that have been produced in the same traditional manner for hundreds of years seems sort of silly.

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Kenneth Anderson

As someone who spent a lovely, less productive than it might have been, sabbatical in Seville two years ago, I have been following the jamon iberico story with mouthwatering concern ever since. And, yes, we sneaked some back into the country when we came home.

Peter Spiro
Peter Spiro

It starts innocently with Spanish ham, next thing you know it’s Cuban cigars.