The cruel truth behind Parmesan that is hard to stomach

27 November 2017

Our recently released undercover investigation has revealed the terrible truth behind the way popular Italian cheeses, Parmesan and Grana Padano, are produced.

Shocking welfare conditions

Footage obtained across nine farms in the Po Valley region of Italy shows emaciated cows forced to live in barren barns with no access to the outdoors, wallowing in their own waste and unable to express many natural behaviours.

Quality needs compassion

The two renowned cheeses pride themselves on terms such as ‘Made in Italy’ and ‘High Quality’, and are often marketed as premium products. Sadly, the welfare of the dairy cows that produce these cheeses does not reflect this - and worryingly there appear to be no animal welfare guidelines in their production standards.

The UK is the fifth biggest importer of these cheeses and these cows prop up a booming industry that boasts an annual turnover of around 5 billion Euros. We are urgently calling on Parmesan and Grana Padano producers to give the estimated half a million dairy cows involved in this industry access to pasture and improved housing conditions, because quality needs compassion.


Emma Slawinski, Director of Campaigns at Compassion in World Farming said: “What our investigators found was simply shocking and really exposes the misery of life in a factory farm. 

“There were extremely underweight, overworked animals being treated like milk machines - some with signs of lameness and injury - suffering just so we can add a topping to our pasta.

“It’s time to put these animals back on the land where they belong.”

You can speak up against this cruelty by asking the representatives of Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano to give cows access to pasture and improve their welfare.

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