EU Asks U.S. to Stop Using Cheese Names like Brie

Blue Cheese

“Seagull Droppings” Cheese

For once, we have something worth going to war over. The European Union says American cheese-makers must stop using names with historical ties to Europe.

From NPR News

As part of negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the European Union wants the U.S. to prohibit food makers here from using names with historical ties to Europe.

That means popular cheeses like Gruyere, Brie and Parmesan could all be in line for a name change, thanks to the EU’s proposed restrictions. The problem, says Steve Stettler, who owns Decatur Dairy in Brodhead, Wis., is that U.S. food makers have spent a lot of money building their brands.

“How do we educate our consumers? People have spent a great deal of money on labeling, building traditions, building a name on a product,” Stettler says. “And then not being able to use that name would be kind of horrific.”

Since the EU started putting restrictions on food names in the mid-1990s, they’ve spread to other countries, says Shawna Morris of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

A couple of years ago, she notes, a free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea “banned the sale of U.S. feta, Asiago, Gorgonzola and fontina to Korea.”

Morris says Costa Rica recently decided against allowing the sale of American provolone and Parmesan, and South and Central America have similar restrictions.

Rather than realigning the aim of our nuclear missiles towards the Valley of Muenster, I have come up with peaceful way of dealing with the issue – rename European cheeses in a way meant to embarrass the E.U. For instance, Brie only be sold as “Infected French Farmer’s Foot”, Roquefort – “Leper’s Sputum”. You get the idea.

You can read the entire article here, or can listen the news story here:

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. hsawtelle says

    Lame attempt to retroactively expand AOC designations. I don’t see why this should be treated differently from non-geographic trademarks. I.e., if the name is source-distinctive it should be protected but if it’s become generic to the style then game over. I think the best example is cheddar, which is named for a particular village in England but no longer connotes a particular source to any consumer. It would be stupid to make Tillamook stop calling their orange cheese “cheddar”, and almost as stupid to say Wisconsin can’t use the word “parmesan.”

    There are still protected AOC cheese names like Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Brie de Meaux, or West Country Farmhouse Cheddar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *