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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. For other uses, see Parmesan (disambiguation).

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 must be made of cow's milk, cured for 10 months or more, contain no more than 32% water, and have no less than 32% milkfat in its solids.[6]

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]


A risotto dish prepared with a soy-based Parmesan alternative

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Preedy, Victor R.; Watson, Ronald Ross; Patel, Vinood B., eds. (2013-10-15). Handbook of cheese in health: Production, nutrition and medical sciences. The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers. p. 264. doi:10.3920/978-90-8686-766-0. ISBN 978-90-8686-211-5. 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. ^ Olmsted, Larry (November 19, 2012). "Most Parmesan Cheeses In America Are Fake, Here's Why". Forbes. 
  6. ^ a b Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services (April 1, 2006), "§ 133.165: Parmesan and reggiano cheese" (PDF), Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21 - Food and Drugs, Chapter I - FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (CONTINUED) (Parts 1 - 1299), Part 133 - CHEESES AND RELATED CHEESE PRODUCTS, United States Government Publishing Office, pp. 338–339 
  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. ^ "Calories in Pizza Hut Grated Parmesan Cheese Packet Estimated". myfitnesspal. MyFitnessPal, Inc. Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved August 2, 2015. 
  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.