food

Europe wants its Parmesan back; seeks name change

28 Comments
By MARY CLARE JALONICK

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28 Comments
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Yet another example of why Europe is failing. Get the government OUT of the market and let the CONSUMER decide!

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

let the CONSUMER decide!

The consumer can decide, but I think American companies shouldn't use names similar to the ones of the original products. Foer example, in Italy we see "Parmesan" like a kind of counterfeit of our Parmigiano.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The introduction of "like" or "style" on labels seems an excellent idea. Perhaps, "coloured" would also be useful for "orange-coloured" or "coffee coloured" drink. Accurate labelling is important when so many products cannot be tested or even seen before purchase because they are enclosed in cardboard or a can. It should also be noted that large food companies have a history of misusing descriptive terms such as natural.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Anyway, this article sounds biased. It's not wrong if Europeans try to protect their original products from falsification. Asiago, Gorgonzola, Grana, Fontina...they are all the original names of our original Italian products, and American companies are using these same names for their domestic cheeses. Actually, it's a big damn for our food export, and for the image of our food, because the quality isn't the same. Try to image if Italy produced a smartphone called "iPhone"...What would the US do?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@Alex80

Try to image if Italy produced a smartphone called "iPhone"...What would the US do?

The US wouldn't do anything because the US doesn't own "iPhone". Now Apple would probably try to sue or get some sort of injunction, but the US as an entity wouldn't care.

A better comparison would be for restaurants in Europe to be selling "Chicago deep-dish pizza" or "Boston cream pie", and I could see how places here might be upset about that, but that's on a whole different level than "iPhone"

But everyone uses "New York Cheesecake" and no one seems to cry about it (although people from New York will very often complain that other "New York" cheesecakes aren't nearly as good, of course).

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The American canned powdered stuff is definitely a sorry substitute for true Parmigiano cheese, but these claims are ridiculous. RowanM's comment about pies and cakes is right on the money...these are names of regions, not brand names. The EU has no right to ask other countries to stop using them.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This is a good idea in theory, but the EU shouldn't be attacking the use of the name, but rather the ingredients and how it's made. If the cheese maker in the US can produce a product of similar quality they should have no problem using the real name.

The problem is the mega corporations and their plastic, cheese-like substance. Trust me, these US lawmakers aren't really fighting for the little artisanal companies anyway, but for for the huge agra-businesses who have had decades of controlling market share such that the average American has never tried real cheese.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Unless those names are trademarked, they can't really do anything about it.

They can take back French fries though, heheh.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

This is a good idea in theory, but the EU shouldn't be attacking the use of the name, but rather the ingredients and how it's made. If the cheese maker in the US can produce a product of similar quality they should have no problem using the real name.

That will open the field to non-American versions of Kentucky bourbon, Kona coffee, Maine lobster, Napa Valley wines. Some Americans will have no problem with that, but I can see where producers would object strongly.

Those Kraft soap flakes will obviously never be confused with actual Parmesan cheese, and the Italians have nothing to fear there. But if it's legitimate for Kraft to do this, a producer of substandard robusta beans in say Vietnam or Zambia, or a third-country buyer, can market and sell their product as Kona coffee.

At the higher end, they can slap a Kona label on something that has no connection to Hawaii but is still a good product or that is a close version of the original - in the manner of American wagyu.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

How about calling it what it is. In essence, American Feta, American Parmesan etc.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I have only one thing to say to the EU. Don't mess with my cheese. You can take my money, you can take a significant body part... but mess wit' my cheese? "Somebody's gonna die tonight" (said with deep Spanish accent).

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan in English), Gorgonzola, Asiago, Camembert and other European products are protected indications and they are treated as intellectual property rights by the Customs Regulation 1383/2003. This Regulation ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed to be identified as such in commerce. The purpose of the law is to protect the reputation of the regional foods, promote rural and agricultural activity, help producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products, and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products, which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour. For further information, please see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected designation of_ origin

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The consumer can decide, but I think American companies shouldn't use names similar to the ones of the original products. Foer example, in Italy we see "Parmesan" like a kind of counterfeit of our Parmigiano.

This is absolutely stupid! Europe does NOT have a monopoly of a patent on the name itself as in it cannot be produced. There are many slight variations of the cheeses, but the overall basic ingredients are the same. Are Europeans going to change the name of Mikey Mouse or Apple (as in Mac) etc.

I don't have a problem with Europeans trying to protect their products, but With the influx of immigrants around the world, it is only natural that these people bring a taste of their culinary with them, so with all the cultures and languages, you can't keep renaming the same products over and over again. I understand it is NOT exactly the same and I don't expect it to be, UNLESS it is labeled AUTHENTIC! Because, it doesn't mean because a food is exported from another country that you have to now change the name. Maybe you can hyphenate it or can label it American version, but still it sounds ridiculous. I have been to Italy many times when I see Kraft Parmesan, i don't confuse nor do I compare it to its original authentic counter part. If you want anything original and authentic, go to the country of origin and indulge in that food that you grew up with, but you know its from a different country.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Such restrictions could not only be costly to food makers, but also potentially confusing for consumers if the labels of their favorite products using these generic names were required to change

What is it with America and food labelling? Good stuff will sell whatever it's called. If you're confident you've got a good product, it's a favourite and your customers want to buy it, why not say clearly on the label what it is? Surely that's less confusing, not more? 'Genuine Made-in-America Parmesan-Style Grated Hard Cheese' by any other name.....

Or are they admitting that up till now they've been deceiving their customers, making them think they were getting the real thing when in fact it was a cheap imitation?

I've bought the powdered Parmesan in the past. It's not Parmesan. Labeling it Parmesan is confusing and dishonest.

When France had a hissy fit over Champagne, customers weren't confused. They just started drinking sparkling wine instead - or rather, continued drinking the same stuff they'd been drinking before, but with a different label.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@RowanM: I see you missed my point. It's falsification, American producers use our original brands and this hurts our industry. But, the US is always right, of course.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It may be interesting to note that the manufacturers put paper fiber in the powdered cheese so that it sprinkles easily. I love eating paper with my pasta, Yum. Buy a chunk of real parmesan and grate it yourself.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Another suggestion of mine would be to leave the names to be used but give the original makers a certain "original" stamp that features the original product as the only original. This naming of products is a big thing within Europe, it's not because of the trade talks with America now. The US knows similar laws like for e.g. Tennessee Whisky.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_Geographical_Status

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is just another witch hunt and some countries are having hissy fits over nothing. Call it what you want., if it tastes good, who cares? Seriously. It's just a name at the end of the day. More thpical American bashing. Obviously, Kraft is doing something right if they sell millions of their Parmesan and good for them. That's why I love capitalism free market and let the best man or company win. If I want the real stuff, I'll go to a deli, Costco or wherever I can find it.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

My guess is this will and like the Budweiser dispute.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Will they smoke a tobacco-like cigarette, eat potato-like chips?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I believe in accurate labeling. Hardened vegetable oil with fake flavoring and orange dye ain't cheese.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is fundamentally an issue of patent/brand ownership. Americans are fanatical about protecting their bands, for example Tennessee Whiskey, or Nike. Is it unreasonable for other countries to equally assert their brand ownership?

That being said, I do think that the EU is being a bit extreme here. I'd rather see a system where these countries/towns set up an institute that sold the license to use the brand name, and in return offered quality assurance. This would allow customers to enjoy a more authentic product, good manufacturers to continue business, force bad manufacturers to change their product name, and allow some income to return to the point of origin in exchange for using their brand name.

It seems a fairer compromise than, for example, insisting that only cheese made in Somerset England in the town of Cheddar can be called "Cheddar Cheese", especially since there are some exceptional international cheddars, such as the New Zealand Red (Cheese that could no longer be called a Cheddar).

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

but the EU shouldn't be attacking the use of the name, but rather the ingredients and how it's made

Its made with a pasteurized cheese, a process patented in 1916. That's long enough to be an established trademark and brand in IP law in both Europe and North America.

The EU is attempting a change in the status quo here in IP law.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@JTDanMan: I think the US producers are using those brands even if they don't respect PDO rules

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_geographical_indications_in_the_European_Union

so it's falsification. It's a matter that is very discussed here in Italy. Please, read this:

http://www.emiliadelizia.com/food-piracy-phenomenon-italian-sounding-food-products/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JTDanManMar. 14, 2014 - 11:43PM JST The EU is attempting a change in the status quo here in IP law.

To be fair the U.S. has been leading the way with International Patent law and it has all been pro-U.S. stuff. Why shouldn't the E.U. try to protect their interests too? Or is this another famous example of U.S. hypocrisy where when the U.S. does something it is okay, but when someone else tries something similar it is an automatic foul? ... and people from the U.S. wonder why they have such a lousy reputation internationally??

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well, there is the Kraft "cheese" and the other parmesan cheese (that you have to grate yourself). Can't believe some folks can't understand the jest of messing with one's food, especially cheese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Frungy,

Why shouldn't the E.U. try to protect their interests too?

They can try all they want. They just don't have a very good case when it comes to Parmesian Cheese. 'Cause the boat sailed. A long, long time ago.

Same with Feta and Cheddar cheese. Bologna, Pizza, and many other widely recognized American style products.

That is the point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, Parmesan is a bad example. That never was the name of an Italian cheese. That's a French word that doesn't correspond to any French cheese, so you can sell paper paste whatever. Now that's true that Americans make a use of actual foreign brands that are abusive. Try to invent a drink made of daikon juice and sell it under the name "Coca Cola" , design red packages, and call your company Georgia America K.K.... Copy-cat ? No, no, that's all the contrary, it's because the US Coke is such an inspiration that we insist on the references to our idol ! Even if you sell it only outside the US, and they will unleash their pittbull lawyers over brands, copyrights, whatsnot.

International Patent law and it has all been pro-U.S. stuff.

Exactly. I don't get why they are surprised to see others imitating their policies. Surely the Europeans have hired a herd of mercenary US patent experts...

I love capitalism free market

The others too, so why couldn't we have a Japanese "Coca-Cola" if they can have American "Brie", American "Neufchatel", countless cases where they just stole an established foreign brand to sell their own crap ? And why does the US bans imports of European real cheeses like Casu Marzu and good old black Brie ? Stop the double standard. Make it free market for everybody.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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