The Washington Post

Feta up with imitations, Europeans start food fight

FILE - This Jan. 13, 2012 file photo shows cups of Chobani Yogurt at Chobani Greek Yogurt in South Edmeston, N.Y. Team USA sponsor Chobani, which is based in upstate New York, says it has 5,000 cups of Greek yogurt sitting in a refrigerated warehouse waiting to be flown to the Olympic village. But Russian authorities say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has refused to provide a certificate that is required for dairy products under its customs rules. A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman says the agency is working with its Russian counterpart to reach a solution to allow the Chobani shipment to go through despite the lack of agreement on general trade requirements for dairy products.(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File) (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

Not only were U.S. Olympic athletes unable to enjoy protein-rich Greek yogurt in Sochi, but if the European Union had its way, Americans wouldn’t either — at least not by that name.

The Europeans don’t want American companies, like New York-based Chobani, to be allowed to use the traditional names for cheese and other dairy products that originated in the Old World. That apparently could include “Greek yogurt.”

Want parmesan on your pasta? Go to Italy. Want feta in your salad? Go to Greece. Want cheddar on your burger? Go to England.

If it’s not produced in its native country, then the EU wants it called something else.

Few issues bring the political parties together these days, but if anything could, it would be an international assault on Americans’ obsession with cheese. The average American consumes 23 pounds of the stuff each year, according to a September 2013 report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

(Center for Science in the Public Interest)

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) gathered more than half the Senate on a joint letter to the Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, urging them to stand firm as a new round of trade talks between the U.S. and the EU continue in Brussels this week.

“Can you imagine going into a grocery store and cheddar and provolone are called something else?” Toomey said in a press release.

To be sure, it would be less appealing to reach for the “imitation mozzarella” or “faux feta” at the grocery store.

If this were to happen – the Canadians inked a deal with the EU that new cheese producers won’t use the European name on many popular cheeses – Americans are going to have be more innovative (think sparkling wine as a substitute for champagne).

We invite you, Loop fans, to offer your suggestions for new names.

And as far as Greek yogurt goes, we’re sure the Turks would gladly lend their name. Turkish yogurt, anyone?

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Play Video
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.