No more ‘Danish Feta’ EU High Court rules


Twenty years after feta cheese was recognised as exclusively Greek, the European Union’s highest court has announced that Denmark would be breaking the law if it continued to allow dairies to continue to sell and export brined white cheese by the same name.

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg made the ruling, in effect ending a 59-year era of Danish feta sales.

In Athens, the decision elicited immediate joy, with the head of the Association of Greek Dairy Industries, Christos Apostolopoulos saying: “This is a wonderful day for authentic feta cheese.”

“What Denmark has been doing is a total fraud. The only way its companies can continue selling the product is if they call it ‘white brined cheese’,” he added.

The EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Feta is a traditional Greek cheese made from unpasteurised sheep or goat milk, which since 2002, the EU has declared a “designation of origin” product, meaning it must come from Greece.

Greece maintains several “designation of origin” products, including the kalamata olive.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Greece is the world’s largest producer of feta, producing 120,000 tons per year and making up 28% of global exports.

Greek exports of the cheese are valued at $200 million euros, providing jobs for more than 300,000 workers.

During the court case, Denmark had argued that feta was a generic name and a prohibition on its cheese exports, which average approximately 85,000 tons annually, would obstruct its international trade.

In reply, the court found that Denmark was in fact hindering the right of Greek producers to a fair income and more broadly failing in its obligations as a member of the EU.

“By failing to stop the use of the designation ‘feta’ for cheese intended for export to third countries, Denmark has failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law,” the court found.




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