Below you will find a brief description of the most important points in each manufacturing stage:
- Raw materials reception: This is the most essential step in the process, affecting the product end quality. The supplier screening and control management, in conjunction with the individual screening of raw materials (leg with bone) during the receiving of the goods, are the basic elements that make up the processes required to comply with the preset high quality levels.
- Pieces conditioning: In order to attain a homogeneous quality level in the end product, certain operations are performed, previous to the processing of pieces:
a) Refrigeration, in order to reach an adequate core temperature before initiating the salting process.
b) Polishing, to achieve a neat and similar appearance in all pieces, keeping the bone during the whole process.
c) Massaging and bleeding, to ensure a precise processing of the piece, avoiding fermentative deviations during the aging process.
- Salting: This is the main phase required to stabilize the product, and it is designed to achieve a soft salt taste profile. The process is carried out inside special chambers, equipped with bins where the pieces are rubbed together individually inside a mix of the only 2 ingredients used in the whole process (salt and salt residue), in specifically controlled quantities.
- Washing: The washing process is achieved through a continuous water spraying, eliminating the salt residue left on the piece surface, as a result of the salting process.
- Air transport: The legs are hung on stainless steel hangers, and then entered on the aerial transport circuit, which extends throughout the corridors and rooms of the facilities. This allows a better distribution and homogeneous processing of the pieces, eliminating the need for product manipulation. This is, in itself, a core sanitary point worth noting.
- Post-salting: This is a conditioning phase carried out before the aging process. It is performed inside air-conditioned rooms in order to ensure the stabilization of the processed pieces with reduced salt content, and the beginning of the superficial drying process.
- Aging: This is the longest phase, during which the product’s specific organoleptic features are developed (aroma, color, feel, taste). This is why the process is carried out inside rooms equipped with automated systems that allow for a homogeneous control of temperature and humidity.
- Bone removal: When the aging process is completed for each specific product (over 6 months for prosciutto and over 12 months for Argentine Prosciutto), the bone is removed by hand from those pieces that require it. It is also during this phase that the skin is removed, if necessary, according to the product that is being prepared.
- Pressing: The pressing of the pieces is performed through casts that vary according to the type of product, maintaining the refrigeration of the pieces. The objective of this phase is to achieve homogeneous shapes for the various commercialization formats.
- Packaging: The finished, boneless product is vacuum packed inside plastic thermal contracting bags, where the product’s nutritional and legal facts are listed – Furthermore, the pieces are identified on the packaging via a batch number. Said number functions as a tracing nexus between the origin of the raw materials, the manufacturing process, and the commercialization.
- Shipping: The pieces are placed inside boxes that ensure proper product conservations during storage and transport.
All the afore mentioned phases are carried out in compliance with hygiene and manufacturing regulations: POES (Standardized Sanitary Operational Procedures, for its acronym in Spanish) GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), with constant implementation of the HACCP (Critical Control Points Analysis, for its acronym in Spanish) Quality Assurance System.