Editor's Pick

The Originals - Watch First

Series 2, Episode 3 Every Mother's Son 21 Oct 14 00:40:41

Top Shows

Contact ONE News
Breaking News

Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp... Find out more

Europe wants Parmesan back, seeks name change

Published: 4:22PM Wednesday March 12, 2014 Source: AP

  •  (Source: Thinkstock)
    Source: Thinkstock

As part of trade talks, the European Union wants to ban the use of European names like Parmesan, feta and Gorgonzola on cheese made in the United States.

The argument is that the American-made cheeses are shadows of the original European varieties and cut into sales and identity of the European cheeses.

The Europeans say Parmesan should only come from Parma, Italy, not those familiar green cylinders that American companies sell. Feta should only be from Greece, even though feta isn't a place.

The EU argues it "is so closely connected to Greece as to be identified as an inherently Greek product."

U.S. dairy producers, cheesemakers and food companies are all fighting the idea, which they say would hurt the $4 billion domestic cheese industry and endlessly confuse consumers.

"It's really stunning that the Europeans are trying to claw back products made popular in other countries," says Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents U.S. dairy farmers.

The European Union would not say exactly what it is proposing or even whether it will be discussed this week as a new round of talks on an EU-United States free trade agreement opens in Brussels.

That's clear from recent agreements with Canada and Central America, where certain cheese names were restricted unless the cheese came from Europe. Under the Canadian agreement, for example, new feta products manufactured in Canada can only be marketed as feta-like or feta-style, and they can't use Greek letters or other symbols that evoke Greece.

Though they have not laid out a public proposal, the EU is expected to make similar attempts to restrict marketing of U.S.-made cheeses, possibly including Parmesan, Asiago, Gorgonzola, feta, fontina, grana, Muenster, Neufchatel and Romano.

Concerned about the possible impact of changing the label on those popular foods, a bipartisan group of 55 senators wrote U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week asking them not to agree to any such proposals by the EU.

Large food companies that mass-produce the cheeses are also fighting the idea. Kraft, closely identified with its grated Parmesan cheese, says the cheese names have long been considered generic in the United States.

Advertising