Cheese Importers Concerned about EU Restrictions of Common Food Names

March 2nd, 2020

The Cheese Importers Association of America (CIAA) recently expressed concern to the European dairy community that the EU has co-opted many common food names through its extensive protection of geographical indications (GIs) which has resulted in reduced market access around the world for U.S. dairy exports. The CIAA represents firms and individuals responsible for importing the majority of cheeses entering the United States.

The comments came after positive discussions between CCFN and CIAA regarding how the latter could play a more active and vocal role in working to facilitate trade between the EU and the United States. This could happen by expressing concerns regarding the EU’s over-reach on GIs while also affirming the useful role that legitimate GIs can play.

As reported in Cheese Reporter, the CIAA believes that “legitimate GIs” which are based on a specific region where the product is produced, should be protected, even when distributed internationally. “However, common cheese names should not be provided protected GI status. This includes cheese names that have a commonly recognized definition or product description in the tariff schedule or an accepted international standard, such as Codex Alimentarius standards or U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards of identity.”

The CIAA noted that, “There are numerous examples of the EU misappropriating common food names to prevent market access for U.S. and other global competitors. We believe these attempts to monopolize common food names in the public domain are counterproductive to the principals of free and fair trade and present an unnecessary restraint on market access for dairy product exporters worldwide.”