They’re putting tracking devices in cheese now

Wooden board with different kinds of delicious cheese on table


The value of the market for fradulent Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sales.


Teeny tiny tracking devices are going into Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds in an effort to cut down on cheese fraud. Yum, pairs nicely with microplastics!

Just like Asiago cheese, Camembert de Normandie, and champagne, Parmigiano-Reggiano has a protected designation of origin — meaning that within the E.U. and U.K., it legally must prove its origin before it can be sold. And not just any derelict dairy gets the title. The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano has bizarrely strict standards for inclusion.

Kraft Heinz’s green plastic bottle of shredded parm isn’t the real deal, according to Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano. The Italy-based industry group guards the sanctity of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a centuries-old consumable that comes from the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Bologna, Italy. Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano sends a master grader to inspect every wheel of cheese. If the pungent wheel passes the test, its rind gets certified with an alphanumeric tracking code.

Micro transponders for dinner Still, cheese fraud is rampant. According to the group, the market for fraudulent sales is $2.08 billion, almost as much as the $2.44 billion market for bona fide Parmigiano-Reggiano. Now, the Consortium is stepping up its game with tiny trackers, as small as a grain of salt, integrated into the Casein label. Mmmmm.

"The innovation combines food-safe Casein labels with the p-Chip micro transponder — a blockchain crypto-anchor that creates a digital 'twin' for physical items,” says the Consortium. “This scannable new food tag is smaller than a grain of salt and highly durable, delivering next-generation visibility and traceability."

"By integrating p-Chip micro transponders into Casein tags, [the Consortium] can better control its inventory, protect and differentiate its products against look and sound-alike brands and have access to unmatchable track-and-trace technology to protect itself in the case of recalls or other issues," CEO of p-Chip Corporation Joe Wagner says.

For now, the trackers are in the testing phase and they’ll only be in 100,000 rinds — a small fraction of the total wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano that are produced annually (the Consortium says 3.94 million cheese wheels were produced last year).

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