The European Union has declared war on United States in name of cheese — to be more precise, in the names of cheese.
During trade negotiations the EU said it wants to ban the use of European names like Parmesan, feta and Gruyere on cheeses made in the United States.
They argue that American-made cheeses are nothing resembling the original European cheese and since the American varieties are typically less expensive than the "original" European-made cheeses, it cuts into sales that benefit the EU.
The Europeans take offense that Americans put dried processed "cheese" in the green shakers so prevalent on dinner tables and label it "parmesan." They say Parmesan should only come from Parma, Italy.
Similarily, the names of wine are named after the regions from which they originate. For example, Bordeaux comes from — well — Bordeaux, France. Champagne comes from — that's right, Champagne, France.
The EU also contends that Feta should only be from Greece, even though feta isn't a place. The EU argues it "is so closely connected to Greece as to be identified as an inherently Greek product."
The U.S. dairy industry isn't too happy with the EU's declaration and says this would hurt the $4 billion domestic cheese industry and confuse consumers.
"It's really stunning that the Europeans are trying to claw back products made popular in other countries," said U.S. dairy farmers representative Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation.
Errico Auricchio, president of Wisconsin-based BelGioioso Cheese Inc., said he has no idea what he would call his Parmesan if he had to find a new name.
"I Can't Believe It's Not Parmesan," he jokes.
Needless to say the Parmesan jokes are hitting Twitter as news broke out that the EU wanted its cheese names back.
It's not Parmesan cheese unless its from Parma? Ok it's not the Internet, a phone, video game or computer unless it came from America
— Michael Hammett (@mihammett) March 12, 2014
I haven't found anything that parmesan cheese isn't supposed to go on.
— Gavin Coburn Wassung (@gavinwassung) March 12, 2014
I want Parmesan cheese sticks
— vivaaaperla♛ (@_ayyenelinx3) March 12, 2014
Pat Toomey and Chuck Schumer work together in bi-parmesan fashion. http://t.co/WEBxzx895C
— Joel Mathis (@joelmmathis) March 12, 2014
US cheese producers who've misled consumers with "parmesan" for "parmigiano" now fear renaming would be "confusing." http://t.co/8m4faOSzUI
— Wayne Curtis (@waynecurtis) March 12, 2014
Everywhere else in the world it's Parmesan cheese. I walk into a Subway and suddenly it's "shaky cheese".
— Mind of Lefty (@mikealongtheway) March 5, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons