Names at Risk

Europe’s Misuse of Geographical Indicators (GI) Puts Many Names at Risk

The European Union (EU) misuses protections meant for proper GIs to monopolize common food and wine terms and raise unjustified trade barriers to block exports. Europe’s aggressive campaign poses a grave threat to farmers, food producers and the consumers who will no longer have access to the cheeses, meats, and wines they know and love – such as the feta on your salad, the bologna in your sandwich or the chateau labeling on your favorite bottle of wine.

It’s becoming a standard approach for the European Commission to try to further restrict the use of some common food names and wine terms through trade and economic negotiations.

The list below contains examples of several common food names and wine terms that are at risk. Use of many has already been restricted, while future use of others is threatened. While this list is not all inclusive, it is a good representation of many names that are commonly used globally. 

Learn more about the importance of this issue and how the Consortium is fighting for your right to use common names or visit our FAQ page.

Cheese Names

  • american – Use not currently restricted
  • asiago – Use restricted in certain markets
  • brie – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • cacciocavallo/caccio – Use not currently restricted
  • camembert – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • canestrato –Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • cheddar  – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • chevre – Use not currently restricted
  • colby – Use not currently restricted
  • colonia – Use not currently restricted
  • coulommiers – Use not currently restricted
  • criollo – Use not currently restricted
  • danbo – Use restricted in certain markets
  • edam – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • emmental/emmenthal – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • feta/fetta – Use restricted in certain markets
  • fontina – Use restricted in certain markets
  • fynbo – Use not currently restricted
  • gorgonzola – Use restricted in certain markets
  • gouda – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • goya – Use not currently restricted
  • grana –Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • gruyere/gruyerito – Use currently restricted in certain markets
  • havarti – Use could be at risk in certain markets
  • kielbasa – Use not currently restricted
  • limburger/limburgo – Use not currently restricted
  • mascarpone– Use not currently restricted
  • monterey/monterey jack – Use not currently restricted
  • mozzarella –Use restricted in certain markets
  • munster/muenster– Use restricted in certain markets
  • neufchatel –Use not currently restricted
  • parmesan/parmesano/parmesão – Use restricted in certain markets
  • pecorino – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • provolone – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • ricotta – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • romano – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • saint-paulin – Use not currently restricted
  • samsoe – Use not currently restricted
  • swiss – Use not currently restricted
  • tilster/tilsit – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • tybo– Use not currently restricted

Meat Names

  • bologna – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • chorizo –Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • prosciutto – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • salami – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU

Wine Terms

Below are several key examples of wine terms that could be put at risk if the EU is successful in their efforts to further limit common names. You can view a full list of wine varietal terms, as identified by the U.S. Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Bureau, by viewing the CFR Notice on American Grape Varietal Terms and the Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Bureau’s additional list of administratively-approved grape varietal terms.

  • chardonnay
  • chateau
  • classic
  • clos
  • cream
  • crusted/crusting
  • noble
  • pinot noir
  • ruby
  • sur lie
  • tawny
  • vintage character

and more

If the EU were to succeed in monopolizing many  terms that they consider to be uniquely European but that are currently in broad usage; consumers, producers and manufacturers all around the world could lose the ability to buy or make many quality foods that can be easily recognized by consumers. In fact, in the United States alone, the U.S. Dairy Export Council estimates that production of roughly $4.2 billion worth of cheeses by companies of all sizes could be affected.

A Small Slice of the Pie

The EU has protections in place for approximately 1,000 food-related GIs alone. (See the list of all registered GIs here.)

The vast majority of these GIs pose no current or potential conflicts with the use of common names. Challenges have arisen only in the few dozen cases where EU actions or court precedents put at risk common names. This happens when the EU or courts approve of a GI protection for a common name, or include it as part of a component of a GI name, without the express assurance that the existence of the GI places no global constraint on the usage of that common name.

The Consortium for Common Food Names seeks to preserve global marketplace opportunities for the vast majority those full geographical indication terms in ways that also safeguard the usage of relevant common names.

No one should try to claim exclusive rights to names that long ago entered into customary common usage around the world. Doing so not only severely undermines the marketability of foods produced outside the protected region, but also impairs the value of tariff concessions that were granted in the WTO and in bilateral and regional free trade agreements.