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Feta decision will have little effect on producers

Feta decision will have little effect on New Zealand producers

A European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision upholding Greek claims to exclusive use of the word feta will have little effect on New Zealand producers, according to Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) chairman Earl Rattray.

The ECJ has confirmed protected designation of origin (PDO) status for feta, rejecting an application from Germany and Denmark, supported by Britain and France, to annul the registration. This means only Greek cheesemakers will be allowed to use the name feta within the European Community, but Mr Rattray says little, if any, New Zealand-made feta was exported to Europe.

Mr Rattray says the decision is the latest step in a long-running squabble between various European countries over whether descriptive names such as feta and parmesan had regional or national significance or were generic.

However, Mr Rattray was critical of the latest decision, saying it seemed to fly in the face of common sense.

“The ECJ is saying that feta has not become a generic term. I completely fail to see how they can conclude that, given the number of countries that are well-established producers of feta and the different types of milk being used to manufacture it,” he said.

Mr Rattray added that the division between European Union member-states over the issue undermined EU attempts to restrict the use of names such as feta and parmesan around the world.

“Names such as these, which do not refer to a region or a country, are quite simply generic terms. In the long-run, restricting their use will only restrict choice and penalise consumers.”

- Ends -

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