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How you could help

Send a message to the Parmesan Consortium

Parmigiano Reggiano, or Parmesan, is one of the world’s most famous cheeses. It is marketed as ‘premium’, ‘traditional’ – an example of Italian ‘excellence’.

Yet, the vast majority of cows farmed to produce this renowned cheese are still being prevented from expressing some of their most basic, natural behaviours. Most never set foot on grass. Some may even spend their lives tied to a post inside their shed.

Please send the message below to the President of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium. Call on the Consortium to do more to protect the welfare of every Parmesan cow.

Dear Dr. Bertinelli, President of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, 

I am writing to ask for urgent action for the cows whose milk is used to produce Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese. 

Almost four years ago, in 2017, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) Italia investigated the farming conditions for the animals behind the milk used to make Parmesan. The results shocked people around the world. 

It was found that most cows farmed to produce Parmesan are unable to express one of the most basic natural behaviours of their species – grazing on pasture – which is essential for ruminant herbivores. 

Furthermore, I understand that, in Italy, the practice of tethering – i.e. fastening animals by a chain or rope – is widespread. I am therefore concerned that this may also affect a considerable percentage of the cows that produce milk for Parmigiano Reggiano. 

I am aware that, following the 2017 CIWF investigation and the related campaign, you have started to address the issue of animal welfare and have taken some first steps to improve the welfare of the cows in your supply chain. 

However, you have not yet formally committed to phase out, once and for all, the cruel and obsolete practice of tethering, or to give pasture access to all Parmesan cows. 

The voluntary animal welfare program that you have launched remains insufficient to guarantee all animals the life worth living that they deserve, and certainly does not reflect the prestige enjoyed by your cheese. 

Parmigiano Reggiano is a leading international brand. I ask you to do more for animal welfare because I know you can do better for the cows. I call on the Consortium to:   

  • No later than the end of September 2021, commit publicly to phasing-out, by 2024 at the latest, the cruel and obsolete system of tethering.  
  • By the end of 2022, put in place a roadmap to progressively guarantee access to at least 120 days of grazing per year for all the cows in your supply chain.   

As a consumer and citizen who cares about animal welfare, I expect your Consortium to deliver concrete and binding commitments and a positive change for animals, in line with the principles and the values you have expressed on several occasions.   

Animal welfare is gaining huge momentum as a societal concern. In 2021 alone we have seen the European Commission committing to introduce a ban on cages in animal farming, and both the UK and New Zealand taking steps towards ending the export of live animals. 

In the light of these developments, and almost four years on from the CIWF investigation into Parmigiano Reggiano, it is time for the Consortium to also step up. It is time for you to protect the welfare of all cows farmed to produce Parmesan cheese.   

I look forward to your positive response. 

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Suffering exposed

In 2017, Compassion in World Farming Italia undertook an investigation into the welfare conditions for cows supplying milk for Parmesan cheese.

The majority of farms supplying milk to Parmigiano Reggiano are 'zero pasture', and our investigators found animals confined, many thin, being kept in squalid conditions.

Inadequate progress

Compassion’s investigation caused a public outcry, and the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium has subsequently taken some steps to improve animal welfare in their supply chain. In particular, they have committed €10 million to a 3-year voluntary animal welfare programme.

But, whilst this is a good first step, it is not enough. A voluntary scheme cannot ensure protection for all Parmesan cows. And the Consortium has not yet formally committed to eliminating tethering or to giving all animals access to pasture.

It's time to act

It is unacceptable for the Parmesan industry to market their product as ‘premium’ if its farmers are still able to ignore the most basic needs of their animals, such as the ability to move or to graze on pasture.

Almost four years on from Compassion’s investigation, the cows can no longer wait. By contacting the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, and calling on them to act, you can help give all 250,000 cows farmed for Parmesan cheese the chance of a life worth living. Thank you!

Spread the word

Would your friends and family be shocked at the treatment of cows farmed for Parmesan? Please ask them to join you and take action today.

Find out more

Investigation insights

See the original story of our 2017 Parmesan investigation, or download the investigation report, to find out more about the terrible conditions many cows endure to produce this famous cheese.

Take action for Parmesan cows

 

Complete the form to send this email to the President of the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano.

Ask the Parmesan Consortium to phase out tethering and give cows access to pasture – because every animal deserves the chance of a life worth living.