The different definitions of quality
Since the concept of quality of an agro-food product can have different meanings depending on the view (see below points), for the principal of our course we have no doubt purposes: the quality of a food product must be understood primarily as "quality commodity ", that is, as the evaluation of overall qualitative determinations, quantitative and organoleptic properties that characterize the product, and must also comply with the law, for the category in question.
Meanwhile, in practice it is necessary to refer not to a generic agro-food product, but to its own specific commercial type offered for sale, and its corresponding sales denomination. For example, for olive oils, relatively to the taste and to the degree of acidity, we have four categories, corresponding to four commercial types, each identified by a precise designation of sale, which are: extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil , olive oil and olive-pomace oil.
Therefore, the picture quality is determined by more or less full compliance with the characteristics of the product concerned at the standard ones for its reference category. We therefore for olive oil four quality levels, on a scale that starts from the extra category (or excellent) until the one with the minimum requirements, under which the product may not be sold. Ultimately, in this way, the quality of agro-food product is considered from a technical (product) - legal.
To complete, at least in part, the framework of the many aspects of the concept of quality, also the marks should be borne in mind, which are types of certification that can be adopted by manufacturers Companies to ensure the quality of their products. If the object of the certification is the production process in correspondence with the various stages of the supply chain, we speak of process certification; for instance, the HACCP and ISO 9000 are process certifications.
If the object of the certification is the quality of the product marketed, we have the certifications of product, corresponding to different types of brands. Among these there are brands of origin, organic brands, collective brands, superior quality brands, and trademarks. We will talk only marks of origin, organic labels, reserving a brief footnote to others. Today trademarks protect only a small part of the products, and it is desirable that even to hold the agro-piracy, go ahead quickly in this direction, also applying tougher laws for offenders.
Before closing this section in general on quality, account should be taken of the characteristics of the production in series of food and agricultural products of modern industry and the typical characteristics of the production. The EEC tends to support the latter, and to run alongside the first, for obvious reasons. Suffice to say that a small law on mountain products has saved about ten commercial types of cheeses produced in excess of 600 meters (including the Asiago), and avoided the depopulation of dairy industries and urban centers settled above this share.
Finally, the quality is also seen as synonymous with genuine product, with the current trend towards organic products, with the introduction of organic brands (the EU and the private organic labels). In contrast, we tend to regulate as much as possible those biotechnologies and those transgenic products (GMO laws) which, if harmless, they can be to the benefit of society. I. The quality categories; the product quality certification
As we have previously mentioned, we can speak of levels of quality of food products in terms of categories.
For example, the quality of the places vegetables on the market is expressed in one of the following qualifications: · Extra category, for products of superior quality, free from defects, and looking great · Category 1a, for good quality products · Category 2a (or merchant), for products having the minimum quality requirements
They have the minimum quality requirements fruit and vegetables healthy, clean and whole, with the right degree of development and maturation, the absence of alterations, lesions, or defects, the absence of foreign material, or non-natural moisture due to addition of water, and the absence of foreign smell and taste.
The current EU policy attach great importance to the criterion of minimum quality requirements of food commodities, which must apply within a single Member State; the aim of the EU is also to gradually lessen the differences between the various Member States, trying to arrive at a theoretical level of minimum requirements the same for everyone. It 'important to note that the criterion of minimum requirements is of a general nature, and that it is followed by the EEC also for sectors other than food product.
We see other examples. The eggs, in relation to their main commercial quality, freshness, are divided into categories. We have the Category "A", for fresh eggs intended for direct consumption (Category "A Extra" for fresh, marketed at most within a week from the deposition date stated on the packaging); the eggs of Category "B" (maximum eggs of three weeks) and Category "C" (eggs of more than three weeks) may only be sold to processing industries. The Reggiano Parmesan cheese, depending on the quality, as ascertained by keystroke, is classified into chosen, zero, one, two, and three; this results in a difference in price, even quite sensitive.
Although not explicitly stated, the concept of class as a quality level is present in many foods, sometimes associated with another parameter.
For example, we will see that the quarters of large animals for slaughter, when sold in the butcher shop, are further divided into anatomical pieces of varying shape and constitution, called cuts. The various cuts of meat, despite having approximately the same nutritional value, they differ in the characteristics of quality, utilization, and therefore also for the price. Those consist of only muscle tissue, lean, are the most valuable; those where there are bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage are less valuable.
For this reason, the meats are divided into three categories: the first belong the meat of the back; 2a to those of the front part; 3a to that of the lower parts, more neck and abdomen. In this example, the quality of meat in terms of flavor, tenderness, digestibility (category) is associated with the cutting and to its use, which also provides for different types of cooking to follow.