WASHINGTON, March 11 Would a Stilton cheese by
any other name smell as sweet?
In a rare act of bipartisan unity, dozens of U.S. senators
have wheeled into action against what they call an "absurd"
European initiative that would force name changes to common
cheese varieties produced in the United States.
The European Union says that names such as asiago, feta,
parmesan and muenster are "geographical indicators" that should
only be displayed on products made in specific areas of Europe,
and not by their U.S.-made counterparts.
The request grated on the U.S. lawmakers.
"Can you imagine going into a grocery store and cheddar and
provolone are called something else?" said Senator Pat Toomey, a
Toomey and Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, rallied
more than half of the 100-member Senate to urge U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative
Michael Froman to fight the EU cheese-naming proposal.
Canada agreed recently to impose restrictions on the use of
"feta" and other common cheese names, but the senators said for
the United States, no whey.
"Many small- or medium-sized family-owned farms and firms
could have their business unfairly restricted by the EU's push
to use geographical indications as a barrier to dairy trade and
competition," they said.
The senators said their action was supported by Kraft Foods
Group, Denver-based Leprino Foods, the world's largest
mozzarella maker, and groups such as the National Milk Producers
Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, and the American Farm
"Muenster is Muenster, no matter how you slice it," Schumer
said on Tuesday.