Names at Risk

Many Names at Risk

It’s becoming a standard approach for the European Commission to try to restrict the use of some common food names through trade and economic negotiations.  One example of this is the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement where non-European cheese producers can no longer sell asiagofeta, fontina or gorgonzola —at least not under those names. This could be just the tip of the iceberg, further examples can be seen in our  FAQ page.

The list below contains examples of several common food names. Actions by the European Commission and related European court rulings have put several of these common names at high risk for monopolization attempts. Use of many has already been restricted, while future use of others is threatened. In addition, the current approach in this area calls into question the safety of other terms with a geographic component. While this list is not all inclusive, it is a good representation of many names that are commonly used globally. 

  • american – Use not currently restricted
  • asiago – Use restricted in certain markets
  • bologna – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • 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
  • chorizo –Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • 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
  • prosciutto – 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
  • salami – Use could be at risk in certain markets; Currently not restricted in EU
  • 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
  • …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 impacted.

A Small Slice of the Pie

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

The vast majority of these geographical indications 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 geographical indication protection for a common name, or include it as part of a component of a geographical indication name, without the express assurance that the existence of the geographical indication 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.