- Greece has won the exclusive right to the name feta, prohibiting all other countries from putting that name on their versions of white, salty cheese.
- Now the European Union seeks to ban the use of names like Parmesan and Gorgonzola, as well as feta, on cheese made in the United States, contending that American-made cheeses are but imitations of the European originals, cutting into sales of the European cheeses and damaging their identity.
- U.S. dairy, cheese, and food producers are all opposed to the limitation, which could harm the $4 billion domestic cheese industry and endlessly confuse consumers.
Essentially, the EU is arguing that any type of cheese associated with a particular European country but manufactured outside of it is a counterfeit version, and should be identified as so. They would probably see it as analogous to labels like Russian caviar, Swiss chocolate, or French wine. What they would likely go with is a similar agreement to what they have in place in Canada: Canadian-made feta cheese must be labeled as "feta-like" or "feta-style," and not include any Greek letters or other symbols associated with Greece.
The ramifications of such a rule could extend to all varieties of European cheese, as well as other products tied to particular nations. Maybe the EU will start objecting to the supposed geographic origins of Greek yogurt popularized in America by brands like Chobani. They will have to draw the line at some point though, or we may have to rename a lot of common food items, like French toast, Italian bread, and Spanish rice.