The European Union has said that it wants U.S. food makers to stop using historically European names, according to NPR. This discussion was part of larger negotiations regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The proposed restrictions would require US cheesemakers to change the names of popular cheeses like feta, Asiago, Gorgonzola, fontina, provolone, Havarti, Swiss, Gouda, Muenster, Gruyere, Brie, and Parmesan.
Other trade agreements which restrict cheese names already exist between the EU and other parts of the world. A free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea bans the sale of US feta, Asiago, Gorgonzola and fontina to Korea. The sale of American provolone and Parmesan is also restricted in Costa Rica as well as parts of South and Central America.
Some commentators believe these restrictions are more about competition than European regional pride. The US boasts some impressive cheese statistics: The US is the largest single country exporter of cheese in the world, and nearly one quarter of that comes from Wisconsin.
If implemented, these restrictions would pose a significant issue for domestic cheese producers, who have spent large amounts of money and energy promoting these traditional names. How would these cheeses be identified for US consumers? Details of the proposed restrictions are still fuzzy, and with much of these cheeses' identities tied to their names, domestic cheesemakers have a lot riding on the outcome of this agreement.