Italian parmesan producers are putting microchips in their cheese in a bid to fight off counterfeiters earning billions of euros from copycat versions.

Micro-transponders no bigger than a grain of salt have been inserted into the dark yellow rinds of Parmigiano Reggiano, known to most of the world as parmesan.

When scanned, the tiny devices reveal a unique serial number that allows buyers to ensure it is genuine parmesan and not one of the many rip-offs that flood the market.

“We keep fighting with new methods,” Alberto Pecorari, from the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, told The Wall Street Journal. “We won’t give up.”

Italy is fiercely proud of its food and drink products, but their global popularity attracts an army of counterfeiters keen to cash in on the kudos of the “Made in Italy” brand.

While authentic parmesan is worth about  €2.9 billion (£2.5 billion) a year to the economy, sales of counterfeit parmesan are not far off at an estimated $2 billion.

The cheese is produced to exacting standards. Each wheel weighs around 40kg (88lbs) and must be matured for at least a year. To qualify as genuine Parmigiano Reggiano, the cheese also must be made in a relatively small geographical area in the north of Italy.

According to Source of photo: internet