EU cheese name idea grates US

If some European Union (EU) trade representatives get their way, Americans will have to think of something else to call that popular cheese that comes in those slender tall green containers that is frequently sprinkled onto spaghetti, salads, popcorn and a variety of other foods.

As reported by NPR, as part of trade talks, EU trade representatives want to limit the use of names like Parmesan, feta and Gorgonzola on cheese made in the United States. The representatives’ argument is that American cheeses don’t measure up to the European originals, and hurt the sales and branding of the originals.

A report in Time suggested that the move would force US cheese producers to “drop those names and rebrand their products, potentially ceding a major edge to their European competitors in booming international markets like Asia.”

Dairy farmers and cheese makers in the US say they deserve much of the credit for making the cheeses so popular and profitable.

Pete Kappelman, who owns a family dairy farm in Manitowoc, Wis., was quoted by NPR as saying: “We’ve been manufacturing, marketing, advertising, and making the cheese interesting to consumers, and now we’re supposed to walk away from it? That’s not quite a level playing field.”

Marin Bozic, an assistant professor of dairy foods marketing economics at the University of Minnesota, told Time: “People will be confused. But the problem is that those names don’t indicate origin. They indicate method of preparation. When you order Greek feta, you don’t expect that it’s feta from Greece. You just expect feta.”

In response to the trade proposal, a bipartisan group of senators wrote U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for their help to defeat any such proposal that may come from the EU.

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