Shouldn’t common food names remain in common use?

The newly formed Consortium for Common Food Names, a global initiative of food producers and organizations, thinks so.  They will work to oppose any attempt to monopolize generic food names that have been commonly used, in some cases for over a century.  The distinction here is geographical indication (GIs) that protect legitimate regional products like Parmigiano Reggiano from commonly understood cheese varietals such as parmesan, which is produced in many regions throughout the world.

The European Commission has been attempting to expand the definition and territory of GIs, recently as part of free trade agreements.  Left unchecked, parmesan, provolone, bologna, salami, and countless other common food names would be restricted.  Producers who label their products with these names, whether as product variety descriptors or brand names, would have to rename and repackage potentially billions of dollars of food products.

The Consortium’s efforts will be focused on working with all interested parties to develop guidelines that provide reasonable protections for GI food products while also protecting the rights of producers and marketers to continue to use common food names.  After all, consumers have been buying bologna for generations and it’s doubtful they’ll understand or embrace a new term for this beloved lunch meat.

2 Responses to Shouldn’t common food names remain in common use?

  1. I couldn’t disagree more.

    Foods like Parmesan and Bologna refer to where they are made and came from.

    Would you want to buy ‘parmesan’ made in China or the US? I think not! When you buy Parmesan, you know it comes from the Parma region of Italy.

    Much like Champagne comes from the Champagne region in France, and all else is ‘Sparkling Wine’, so should be with Parmesan.

    The consumer is not so un-intelligent as to figure out what is going on, and keeping the names restricted to those regions helps assure the quality and authenticity of the foods.

    Swiss cheese in the US is a copy of Emmentaler Cheese from Switzerland, but here they call is Swiss Cheese. That works fine. You want Emmentaler, you need to get the stuff made in that region of Switzerland! (And it tastes better than Swiss cheese!)

    Let’ not let Parmesan become a commodity!

    • The Taste Blog says:

      Hello Lawrence,

      Thank you for your comment and interest in the Taste Blog. You make a valid case that is shared by many in addition to the regional producers of these products. I’m sure this debate will continue, and you are absolutely correct that discriminating consumers should seek and purchase authentic GI products if they want to experience the unique qualities of regional products.

      Linda Hood, Partner
      Editor of The Taste Blog
      Taste Advertising, Branding, Packaging