ACS Calls for a Common Sense Approach to Common Cheese Names

10 years ago Jasmine Romero 2 Minute(s) to read

Denver, CO—American cheesemakers are a creative and innovative bunch. They are also
traditionalists in how they approach the history of cheese and the methods used to create
cheeses with those rich histories. Much of that history stems from Europe. When European
immigrants came to the New World centuries ago, they brought with them the recipes and
traditions of preserving milk by making it solid. Cheeses were known by the names brought
over from the continent, and over the course of hundreds of years, the names have become
generic in the minds of consumers. Brie, havarti, ricotta, parmesan, cheddar…these names have
become identifiers of types of cheeses that are now known commonly and widely throughout
the world.

“Many world-famous cheeses gained popularity with consumers precisely because versions
made by immigrants abroad were readily available to a New World audience,” says ACS
President, Greg O’Neill of Chicago’s Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine. “Pastoral serves
and sells great cheeses from around the globe. We and our customers value the variety and
uniqueness of these cheeses, and respect specific geographical indications that are protected.
But to best serve cheesemakers and consumers,” O’Neill continues, “a common sense approach
must apply to names in long-standing common usage. After building the awareness,
appreciation, and availability of such cheeses, it would be detrimental to eliminate the broad,
universally-understood language of cheese.”

Any international trade agreement exists to remove borders, expand markets, and lift barriers to
consumer access to products. Such an agreement cannot truly be free and respectful of the
spirit of “free trade” if restrictions are placed on long-standing products and product names that
ostensibly limit trade in a new way within the framework of “free trade.” Common sense
should prevail over nationalism and protectionism in this realm, and as such, ACS, on behalf of 
ACS Common Cheese Names/031314
its 1,500 cheese industry members, hopes that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership (TTIP) will be built upon a few basic tenets.

  • Recognize, respect, and value the hard work of cheesemakers around the globe.
  • Value and honor geographical indications of cheeses, such as AOC and DOP, as very
    strict, clearly defined classifications that protect specific, regional cheeses in Europe and
    must not be used for any cheeses that do not meet the stringent geographic and
    manufacturing protocols proscribed. Cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Brie de
    Meaux should be protected as the original, historical precursors of more generically
    named parmesan and brie.
  • A belief that free trade cannot truly be free if restrictions are placed on existing
    products that limit consumer access and understanding. Free trade should open
    borders and allow nations to more easily and affordably share resources and products.
  • An expectation that all cheeses be clearly marked with country of origin so that
    consumers are fully aware of where products are made and exactly what they are


Great cheese and great cheesemakers deserve recognition for their work, and also the ability to continue that work unimpeded by the semantics and politics of international trade negotiations. 

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Enter your email address to join our mailing list to stay up-to-date.