Europe seeks name change for US-made cheesePublished: 3/12/14 @ 12:00
Would Parmesan by any other name be as tasty atop your pasta? A ripening trade battle might put that to the test.
As part of trade talks, the European Union wants to ban the use of European names such as 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 come only from Parma, Italy, not those familiar green cylinders that American companies sell. Feta should be only 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.”
So, a little “hard-grated cheese” for your pasta? It doesn’t have quite the same ring as Parmesan.
U.S. dairy producers, cheese makers and food companies are all fighting the idea, which they say would hurt the $4 billion domestic cheese industry and endlessly confuse consumers.
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.
And it may not be just cheese. Other products could include bologna, Black Forest ham, Greek yogurt, Valencia oranges and prosciutto, among other foods.