As part of trade talks, the European Union wants to ban the use of several European names, such as Parmesan and feta, on U.S.-made cheese.
The reason? The Union feels that the American-made cheeses are not only pale imitations of the European originals (they say that Parmesan should come only from Parma, Italy and feta should come only from Greece), but also that they cut into European sales (even if they're imitations?).
American dairy producers, food companies and cheese makers are not thrilled, to say the least; they maintain that the $4 billion domestic cheese industry will be hurt (“hard-grated cheese” doesn't have quite the same ring as Parmesan).
So far though, the European Union hasn't come up with any solutions-or other catchy alternative names yet.
And the Union doesn't want to stop with cheese names-they also want to ban the names bologna, Black Forest ham, Greek yogurt, Valencia oranges, prosciutto and other foods!
New Food Labels
The Obama administration is proposing new food labels that would make it easier to know about calories and added sugars, a reflection of the shifting science behind nutrition (for example, an estimated serving size for ice cream would change from a half-cup to a cup, so the calorie listing on the label would double as well).
It's the first overhaul of the labels in two decades; the idea behind the change is that people should understand how many calories are in what they already are eating (The Food and Drug Administration says that, by law, serving sizes must be based on actual consumption, not some ideal).
“Our guiding principle here is very simple; that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it's good for your family,” said first lady Michelle Obama, who joined the FDA in announcing the proposed changes at the White House (the announcement was made as part of her Let's Move initiative, which combats child obesity). On February 25th, she also announced new Agriculture Department rules that would reduce marketing of less-healthful foods in schools.
But the new rules may be several years away (it is government, after all): The FDA will consider comments on the proposal for 90 days; a final ruling could take another year; and even once it's final, the agency has proposed giving the industry two years to comply (a lot of cost-around $2 billion-for label revision and redesign alone).
Sources: “Europe seeks name change for US-made cheese”-Associated Press-The Vindicator, March 12, 2014 and “New food labels aim to make healthful eating a bit easier”-Associated Press-The Vindicator, February 28, 2014