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This article is about cheeses known by the generic name parmesan. For the Italian cheese from the region of Parma, see Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Generic parmesan cheese is a family of hard grating cheeses made from cow's milk and inspired by the original Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Parma, Italy.[1] They are generally pale yellow in color, and usually used grated on dishes like spaghetti, Caesar salad, and pizza.[2]

Within the European Union, the term Parmesan may only be used, by law, to refer to Parmigiano-Reggiano itself, which must be made in a restricted geographic area, using stringently defined methods. In many areas outside Europe, the name "Parmesan" has become genericized, and may denote any of a number of hard Italian-style grating cheeses,[3][4] often commercialized under names intended to evoke the original: Parmesan, Parmigiana, Parmesana, Parmabon, Real Parma, Parmezan, Parmezano,[5] Reggianito. After the European ruling that "parmesan" could not be used as a generic name, Kraft renamed its grated cheese "Pamesello" in Europe.


Generic parmesans may be legally defined in various jurisdictions.

In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations includes a Standard of Identity for "Parmesan and reggiano cheese".[6] This defines both aspects of the production process and of the final result. In particular, parmesan is made of cow's milk and must contain no more than 32% water and its solids must contain not less than 32% milkfat.

Flavor and uses[edit]

Parmesan cheeses are rich in umami flavors.[7] They are generally used as a condiment for prepared foods, rather than being eaten by itself on a cheese plate.

Kraft Foods is a major North American producer of generic parmesan and has been selling it since 1945.[8][9] As parmesan is a common seasoning for pizzas and pastas, many major pizza chains such as Pizza Hut offer it for free.[10]


Soy-based vegetarian alternatives to Parmesan cheese exist.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Handbook of cheese in health: Production, nutrition and medical sciences - Google Books. 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  2. ^ Wisconsin Cheese: A Cookbook and Guide to the Cheeses of Wisconsin - Martin Hintz, Pam Percy - Google Books. 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  3. ^ Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. 'parmesan'
  4. ^ Cox, James (9 September 2003). "What's in a name?". USA TODAY. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Larry Olmsted, "Most Parmesan Cheeses In America Are Fake, Here's Why", Forbes 11/19/2012
  6. ^ CFR 21:2:133.165
  7. ^ Taste: Surprising Stories and Science about Why Food Tastes Good - Barb Stuckey - Google Books. 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  8. ^ Justin M. Waggoner (12 October 2007). "Acquiring a European Taste for Geographical Indications" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  9. ^ Brodsy, Alyson. "U.S. cheese maker says it can produce Parmesan faster | Business | Indiana Daily Student". Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ History of Cheese, Cream Cheese and Sour Cream Alternatives (With or Without ... - William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi - Google Books. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2014-05-30.