An EU court decided yesterday (7/14) that feta production and sales within Denmark are unlawful. That is, it is unlawful for Danes to produce a similar cheese and call it Feta. Similar to the tradition held with liquor production, feta, being classically Greek, can therefore not be made anywhere else and still be called feta.
Apparently, the Dutch have been doing this for a long time, around 60 years. But it was just 20 years ago that EU courts ruled that feta, rather than being generic, is something that must come from Greece. It is unknown why it was not discovered 20 years ago when the Dutch had been doing it for, at that point, 40 years already. And it is just as interesting that it took another 20 years to find an entire country was in violation of a law. I guess that just shows where this sits on a country’s list of priorities.
But, better late than never.
And so that’s that. Feta can only be called feta if it comes from Greece. Next time you’re in the supermarket, go to the cheese section and look for the feta offerings. By this EU rule, you’ll find that, not only do virtually none of them come from Greece, they aren’t even made from goat’s milk, and so they can’t be called feta. Of course, many Americans chafe at the sight of anything made from goat’s milk, and so it wouldn’t sell, but that’s beside the point. The point is, that the U.S. doesn’t generally respect what it considers “generic” terms, which is why you can buy sherry that wasn’t made in Jerez, Spain. We only bristle when it comes to domestics like bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. So relax everyone, no one here is likely to come around and tell you that that “feta” you’re eating, which was made in New York from cow’s milk, isn’t feta.