Gruyère cheese not only French or Swiss, US Justice department says

Gruyère does not necessarily come from the village of Gruyères in Switzerland and not from French producers either, according to American justice.

Chablis, feta, brie can already be used as names for American products. Will there soon be “made in the USA” Gruyère? In early January, a federal judge ruled that the term Gruyère had become “generic” in the United States. This would prevent, according to him, from registering it in the register of trademarks to reserve it for products originating in Switzerland and France, as he explained while the French and Swiss producers of the famous cheese from the Alps are trying to protect the designation. .

In a decision of about thirty pages, Judge TS Ellis points out that American producers have been making Gruyère in the State of Wisconsin since the 1980s, and that more than half of the Gruyère imported into the United States between 2010 and 2020 was produced in Germany and the Netherlands. “Decades of importing, producing, and selling cheeses called Gruyère, but produced outside the Gruyère region of France and Switzerland, have eroded the meaning of the term and made it generic,” he writes. .

Even the dictionaries do not all mention the geographical origin of this “cow’s milk cheese, with a cooked paste forming holes”, although it appeared from the 12th century in the Alps, notes the magistrate. The Gruyère interprofession, which represents players in the sector in Switzerland, and the Syndicat interprofessionnel du Gruyère, its French counterpart, notified Monday their intention to appeal this decision.

For them, Gruyère, which benefits from protected designations of origin in both countries, “is made with care from local and natural ingredients, using traditional methods that ensure the link between the region of origin and the quality of the end product.

“Cheese made in Wisconsin cannot replicate the unique taste of real Gruyère made in Switzerland or France,” they wrote in their original complaint. On the American side, players in the sector have on the contrary hailed “a historic victory”. And, in a press release, they took note for the future: this decision “sets a precedent in a much larger battle over the names of food products in the United States”.

The European Union had tried to obtain protection for around 200 products associated with its territories (Comté, Chablis, Parmesan, Bolognese, etc.), during negotiations for a free trade agreement between Europe and the United States. United (Tafta) who finally stumbled. In the absence of an agreement, the case by case prevails: if Greek feta or Chablis have already lost the fight, the United States reserves the use of the terms “roquefort” or “cognac” for products produced around cities. eponymous French women.

Back to top button