The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


International group forms to protect common food names

A new international coalition formed to preserve the right to use general food names will introduce itself to the dairy industry next week in Milwaukee.

The Consortium for Common Food Names, composed of companies and organizations from the United States, Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala and the United States, will oppose efforts led primarily by the European Union to restrict the use of what the group calls “common food names.”

The consortium will hold a reception at the International Cheese Technology Expo in Milwaukee on April 12. The consortium is chaired by Errico Auricchio, president of BelGioioso Cheese, a Green Bay, Wis., firm. Jaime Castaneda of the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council will serve as executive director.

The consortium has been formed in reaction to European campaigns to give “geographical indication” status to many foods and wines that originated in Europe but are now produced in the New World.

“The consortium supports proper geographical indications (GIs), like ‘Camembert de Normandie’ and ‘Brie de Meaux’ cheeses from France, and ‘Clare Island Salmon’ from Ireland, the group said in a news release, but “opposes any attempt to monopolize generic names that have become part of the public domain, such as parmesan, feta, provolone, bologna, and salami.”

If efforts to grant international status to these food names are successful and companies can no longer use them on their products, “consumers will no longer recognize many of their favorite foods” and “producers around the world will be forced to consider relabeling potentially billions of dollars’ worth of food products,” the group said.

European producers contend the indicators are appropriate signals of food quality and origin.