SMITHFIELD, Va. (AP) - Smithfield Foods is closing the last smokehouse that creates the genuine Smithfield ham.
A spokeswoman says the smokehouse had reached the end of its useful life and that, fortunately, the company has plenty of genuine Smithfield hams stockpiled to satisfy immediate demand.
The ham is a signature product of the Smithfield, Virginia, area. State law requires a Smithfield ham to be cured in the town.
Herb De Groft, a 77-year-old former Smithfield Foods executive, told The Washington Post that country meats brought the area to the fore in the 1800s.
The smokehouse is said to be more than 50 years old. Whether the company will build a new smokehouse, seek a change in state law or simply abandon the "genuine Smithfield" name is now a matter of local speculation.