ACS Calls for Common Sense in Cheese Names

Dear Gourmet Business editors,

 

I have a few thoughts regarding the post “ACS Calls for Common Sense in Cheese Names” which I would like to share with you.

As producers of Feta cheese, which is one of the most important PDO cheeses, we have faced the PDO initiative as a very important factor for our Feta cheese.  First of all, the PDO initiative targets to protect the cheese heritage.

 

Sometimes PDO is recalled for keeping the prices; but that is not true.  The main purpose is to restore the original taste and the cheese-making mastering.  In Greece before ‘60s there was a small production of cow milk.  Most of the herd we used to breed was sheep and goats.  In these very first steps of international trade regarding cheese, we faced the lower cost of cow milk cheeses.

 

So, facing the potential problem that might change the cheese quality for lowering the cost by using the cow milk, the Greek Authorities decided to register the exact recipe for Feta cheese, which is made of Sheep milk min 70% and Goat milk max 30%.  Recipe registration was important for us, the producers, so we can have fair trade and later on, with the PDO initiative, that registration was recognized within Europe.  In that way the feta cheese kept its identity and taste.

 

Nowadays, we see feta type cheeses produced in many countries around the world. That is a compliment for our cheese history and our ancestors’ endeavor.  I appreciate the expertise of many cheese makers outside Greece for their effort on producing feta type cheeses, however we should note that cheese-making have some very important characteristics.  I could mention a few: type of milk used, maturation, recipe tradition and taste creation etc.  We should pay special attention to these in order to have a cheese tradition.

 

Please mind that cheese making includes many social factors: heritage, taste and nutrition, livestock and nature. By having different cheese-making elements that would result in a different cheese. Having a different cheese with the same name, that would surely be a misunderstanding for the consumer.  The consumer is not always well trained in the cheese species.  Having two cheeses named same or very similar, would lead to misconception.

 

We could name the PDO initiative as the initiative to keep our food heritage, which faces issues in an open and competitive economy.  It’s not a matter of prices, it’s not a matter of competition but it is a matter of food culture. It’s beautiful to have a colorful pallet of tastes on the world map.

 

In the TTIP we should keep in mind that free trade is for the trade and not for the heritage. Maybe the American cheese makers could make use of that for their cheeses and as well as when they go abroad for selling their cheese to say proudly “That is American cheese”, as we, the Greeks, proudly claim the Greek identity of the Feta cheese.

 

 

Michalis Arvanitis

ARVANITIS S.A.

 

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