In 2011 new nutritional studies carried out by the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (INRAN, now CRA) demonstrated the new value of Italian cured meat products, which at last reflect the attention and dedication the sector has focused on the issues of health and nutrition.
The new data is the result of a virtuous cycle of innovation which began more than 20 years ago and has affected every aspect of the sector's production: from livestock breeding and the quality of animal feeds to precise selection of raw materials upstream of the production process through to the development of production technologies.
This has allowed manufacturers to obtain products with lower levels of fat (particularly saturated fats) and over time has facilitated a gradual improvement in nutritional values, accentuating the high protein content which has always been a great nutritional feature of these products.
While the quality of animal foodstuffs and the choice of raw materials has had a positive effect on the levels of fat and protein, the evolution of production systems, constant checks during curing and closer attention to the quality and quantity of seasonings used have led to a significant reduction in salt content. The result is levels which - depending on the product - have fallen by between 4 and 45%.
In 2011 it was at last possible to include research into substances which had never before been analysed, such as specific vitamins. This ascertained the presence of vitamins like B1, B2 and B3 in Italian cured meats, and a significant amount of vitamins B6, B12 and E was registered for the first time: an important natural antioxidant which contributes to cellular health.
The route undertaken by Italian cured meat producers is gradually leading to a complete nutritional restyling of products, but without sacrificing their traditional goodness!