France - Switzerland

French cheese-makers can make Gruyère ... but it must have holes

Getty/Creativ Studio Heinemann

French farmers will be allowed to produce "Gruyère" cheese …as long as it has holes, the European Commission ruled Friday. Until now only Swiss Gruyère was protected by the European Union’s regional trading name system.


"The European Commission proposal to register the denomination 'Gruyere' as a protected geographical indicator has been approved" by a committee of EU experts, EU farming commission spokesman Roger Waite said.

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But it must contain holes "between the size of a pea and a cherry," and the French origin must be visible on packaging, so that there is no confusion with the more famous Swiss version.

To date, only Swiss Gruyère benefited from this degree of protection under a bilateral accord between the EU and non-member Switzerland.

Australian and New Zealand producers, as well as the American dairy industry, had lodged objections to the recognition of French Gruyère as a distinct product.

The decision reverses a 2010 ruling against the French bid.

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