Is Ibercio Ham legal?

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This is a common question we are asked even though it may seem a little strange to many. A leg of ham is illegal?

If you are living in the UK then there is absolutely nothing illegal about buying, eating or selling Iberico ham, however, this is not the case everywhere. Here, our food standards authority allows cured hams from Spain to be imported freely and enjoyed. The issue comes if you live in the USA. It is against the law there to import the hind leg, with the hoof attached, covered in the thin layer of protective mould and hairs.

This is because the factories in Spain do not conform to US regulations. This is a bizarre oversight as the famous Iberico ham is gaining exclusive cult status and is being copied in the US by curers using products in the UK. While it may be inspired by Iberico Ham, it is not the same.

The huge demand has increased the number of Americans who are trying to smuggle the Jamon into the country. One Californian woman received a fine of $2000 for trying to smuggle in a Chorizo using Iberico Jamon. Some have faced jail and fines exceeding $50,000. Which is hard to believe.



Things do seem to be changing though – some suppliers have reported being able to break into the USA as long as certain conditions are met- for instance, the removal of the hoof. This doesn’t seem like a great deal to most people, however, the hoof is an extremely important indicator of the quality of the ham, and what type of ham it is.

Without the hoof, there is no real easy way to determine whether or not the product is actually Iberian ham or a fake. For many customers, this may leave them vulnerable to scams.

What you should be looking for is a thin ankle, natural (not painted) hoof that is battered and broken (indicates that the pig has been roaming around the hills hoovering up all those wonderful acorns). The Jamon should also be nutty, the fat almost translucent and you may find tiny white crystalised nuggets in the mean; this is a sign of a genuine Jamon Iberico.



If you’re from the UK and you’re asking the question if Iberico Ham is legal then you may be interested in buying some. We know exactly where you can get some of the best examples of Iberico ham all across the UK. That is right here.