An appellation of origin is a special kind of geographical indication generally consisting of a geographical name or a traditional designation used on products which have a specific quality or characteristics that are essentially due to the geographical environment in which they are produced. Consumers are familiar with these products and often request them - even unknowingly - using their geographical name. The following examples may ring a bell.
One such appellation of origin is Prosciutto di Parma or Parma ham. For ham to receive the Parma name, it must be produced in the province of Parma - in the Emilia-Romagna region of north-central Italy - using exclusively pigs from that area. Each step in production, from the breeding of the pigs and their diet through processing to the final packaging, is closely monitored and controlled by the Istituto Parma Qualità. Only the Istituto can brand the finished ham with the seal of Parma's five-pointed ducal crown, qualifying the ham as true Parma ham.
For those with stronger tastes, there is Tequila from Mexico. Tequila production is governed by federal regulations that define where it can be made, where the agave plants to make it can be grown, what has to be stated on the label, where it can be bottled and how much of the content must be made from what percentage of agave sugars. So, when you see a bottle labeled "Tequila" you know you are getting the real thing.
It is not simply a matter of having a quality product that has a place of origin that makes it unique and which can be recognized by a traditional name or geographical area. Obtaining a geographical indication is a long and often difficult process, not always rewarded with success.
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