Distinctive quality marks are European Union seals of approval distinguishing certain products for their production formula linked to a particular region or practice. Approval is subject to a procedure that in Spain involves four legislative steps: approval by the autonomous community of the set of conditions defining the product features and the type of mark it aspires to; validation of the conditions by the relevant Ministry prior to presenting them to the European Commission; receipt of the application by the European Commission; and finally publication of the seal of approval in the European Union Official Gazette.
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The "Ibérico" designation is not regulated by the European Union, but by Spain. In this case, the mark refers to meat, ham, shoulder and loin of pork obtained from Ibérico pigs. The definition of "Ibérico" is determined by the breed of the animal, which can be pure Ibérico (if both parents are pure bred Ibérico registered in the genealogical tree) or simply Ibérico (if the mother is Ibérico or pure Ibérico breed). Another issue to bear in mind for products under this mark is that the pigs must have been fed as stipulated by law. If the products are intended for inclusion in the top categories, they must have been reared in the dehesa, a natural environment found in the west of Spain.