Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) – Black Forest ham doesn’t have to be sliced and packaged in the Black Forest, according to a ruling published by a top German court on Tuesday.
The Federal Court of Justice’s decision settles a years-long battle first waged by the Protective Association of Black Forest Ham Producers back in 2005.
The association had argued that rules defining the EU-protected delicacy should be tightened since few people still bought the cured meat as a whole piece, with consumers increasingly opting for slices.
Several producers however opposed such a move, including one company that cured its product in the south-western forest region but sliced and packaged it hundreds of kilometres further north in the state of Lower Saxony.
The row has been through the Federal Patent Court of Germany as well as the European Court of Justice.
The top EU court passed the case back to German courts, saying it was up to them to decide whether the complainant’s suggested change to the rules was necessary to protect the quality of the ham and defend its status as a regional speciality.
But the Federal Court of Justice upheld a 2019 ruling by the patent court.
Black Forest ham must be sliced at a thickness of no more than 1.3 millimetres, a skill that the judges said in their 25-page ruling could also be found outside the region that gives the ham its name.