Spanish producers of the famous sheep's milk cheese, manchego, are not happy with a recent EU decision which will allow Mexican producers of cow's milk cheese to use the manchego name. The producers of the Spanish cheese have said they are going to fight the decision.
The dispute over the ownership of the name had caused a delay in a major trade agreement between the EU and Mexico until recently when an agreement was finally reached. Although the agreement on manchego cheese will give Spanish companies some protection over Mexican copycats, it will still allow the cheeses to share the same shelve and name as one another. Phil Hogan, the European commissioner for agriculture, stated that specific labelling provisions would make the origins of the two cheeses clear which will prevent consumer confusion however.
Despite this, the Spanish cheesemakers are still unhappy with the implementation of the trade agreement particularly as they have had exclusive use of the manchego name in the EU since 1982, something they understandably wanted to apply in Mexico as well.
A spokesperson for Spain's largest farmers' union, Asaja, Martin Esteo said "the whole thing is nonsense", and went on to explain that only cheese originating from the Spanish region of La Mancha made from the milk of a manchega ewe should be described as manchego. The European commissioner has been accused of putting international interests ahead of those of EU food producers.
The trade agreement is yet to be ratified before it can come into force but is expected to come into effect by the end of the year. Spanish cheesemakers have vowed to fight against the EU ruling however.
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