A top EU court has put an end to a long-running battle by ruling that Parma ham and Grana Padano cheese can only be sliced and grated in the region where they are produced.

The ruling from the European Court of Justice ends a six-year campaign by Italian regional producers to prevent UK supermarket chain Asda from slicing and packing Parma ham outside the Parma region. Since the case began Asda has moved its Parma ham packing operations back to Italy from the UK.

The case only refers to pre-sliced packets of Parma ham. Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, the Italian trade association that was protesting against Asda, said it was not trying to prevent Asda or any other retailer from slicing Parma ham on the in-store delicatessen counter.

Producers had also been campaigning against France’s Ravil, which imports whole Grana Padano cheeses from Italy and then grates and distributes them in France.

“Maintaining the quality and reputation of Grana Padano cheese and Parma ham justifies the rule that the product must be grated or sliced and packaged in the region of production,” the court was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The court said grating cheese and slicing ham could damage the quality of the products and undermine the protected designation of origin certificate.

To read just-food’s recent feature article on Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and its effect on the cheese market, click here.