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U.S. and EU in cheese names war

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Staff writer ▼ | March 12, 2014
Dozens of US senators have wheeled into action against what they call an "absurd" European initiative that would force name changes to common cheese varieties produced in the United States.
Europe chesse
Europe chesseDozens of US senators have wheeled into action against what they call an "absurd" European initiative that would force name changes to common cheese varieties produced in the United States.


In Europe, wine and food producers rely on protected geographical indications to name products such as Cognac, Roquefort cheese, Sherry, Parmigiano Reggiano, but also Basmati rice or Darjeeling tea.

The protection of geographical indications can create value for local communities through products that are deeply rooted in tradition, culture and geography, argues the European Commission's trade department.

Would a Stilton cheese by any other name smell as sweet? The EU's request to rename cheese that is not produced in their region of origin grated on the U.S. lawmakers, reports EurActiv.

"Can you imagine going into a grocery store and cheddar and provolone are called something else?" said Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican.

Senator Toomey and Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, rallied more than half of the 100-member Senate to urge US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and US Trade Representative Michael Froman to fight the EU cheese-naming proposal.

Canada agreed recently to impose restrictions on the use of "feta" and other common cheese names, but the senators said for the United States, no way. "Many small- or medium-sized family-owned farms and firms could have their business unfairly restricted by the EU's push to use geographical indications as a barrier to dairy trade and competition," they said.

The senators said their action was supported by Kraft Foods Group, Denver-based Leprino Foods, the world's largest mozzarella maker, and groups such as the National Milk Producers Association, US Dairy Export Council, and the American Farm Bureau Federation.


 

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