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France drops fight for gruyere cheese appellation, ceding to Swiss

media French gruyere Résonance Médiatique

French gruyere producers have given up trying to win the coveted appellation d'origine controlée (AOC) certification, ceding the official label to the Swiss. They had been planning to take the matter to the European Commission, but decided not to take the risk: if their demand for the label had been rejected, they would have lost the right to call their cheese gruyere at all.

Both the French gruyere, which has holes, and the Swiss version, which does not, had been granted the AOC certification by their respective countries - France in 2001 and Switzerland in 2007.

The certification is given to agricultural products that are made using traditional methods, with certified ingredients from designated geographical areas.

Three years ago, French gruyere producers provoked the ire of the Swiss when they decided to seek the European Union’s protected designation of origin (PDO) label for their cheese.

The European Commission said this spring that the French case was weak, because the region in which their cheese is cured is larger than the area in which it is produced, a requirement for PDO certification.

Now that they have dropped the fight for the AOC label, the French producers say they will content themselves with the less prestigious indication géographique protégée,and keep the gruyere name.

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