Dairy owner in Italy crushed to death under cheese wheels

Grana Padano cheese warehouse

Local agricultural entrepreneur Giacomo Chiapparini was discovered dead after 12-hour rescue operation by emergency services in Romano di Lombardia near Bergamo, Italy. The accident happened in a warehouse storing large wheels of Grana Padano cheese. The warehouse stored 25,000 of large cheese wheels weighing 24-40kg each. The cheese was stored on 15 levels of specially designed shelves as high as 10 meters in a building of 2,000 square meters.

The accident happened at 21 on August 7, 2023. The man was the only person in the warehouse. It is understood that he was programming machines cleaning the warehouse.
The reason of the accident is unknown, but emergency services suspect malfunction of the cleaning system which may have caused one shelf to collapse. The initial collapse created a domino effect of subsequent collapses resulting in all (or almost all) shelves with up to 1,000 tons of cheese crashing down. It took almost 12 hours of rescue operation to find Mr Chiapparini’s body crushed by the cheese debris.

Neighbors report that the noise of the collapse was heard throughout the local area. Neighbors describe Mr Chiapparini as a hard working entrepreneur and a generous person. After the disastrous Emilia-Romagna earthquake in 2012 he accepted 10,000 cheese wheels from other companies to preserve the cheese after their storage infrastructure was damaged.

Mr Chiapparini’s company Azienda Agricola Chiapparini Giacomo is well known in Italian cheese industry. The large scale dairy firm is reported to be the only manufacturer of famous Grana Padano cheese that handles all stages of production, from milking the cows, to maturing the cheese.

Now Bortolo Ghislotti, head of Agricultural District of the Lower Bergamasca (DABB) urges the local dairy community to try to save some of the cheese wheels. The collapsed cheese is valued at 7 million EUR. Grana Padano cheese is aged for 8 to 20 months in controlled conditions.

Up to 1,000 tons of cheese wheels may be among the debris. If the cheese is not saved, the event may have significant effect on the global supply chain of Grana Padano. About 150 dairy factories produce estimated 76,000 tons of Grana Padano annually in the Po Valley area.

Photo by Azienda Agricola Chiapparini Giacomo/Facebook

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