A food fight between Europe and the US could block a massive free trade deal.
Products like Feta cheese, Gorgonzola, Champagne and Parma ham currently enjoy protection under which only they can be sold by that original name in the EU.
But with the controversial and much protested against Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) those products would not enjoy that protection in the United States.
In addition US companies would be able to sell their products in Europe under TTIP, even if they did not meet the same standards as local foodstuffs – for example Feta cheese from Greece can only be made with goat and sheeps milk.
Both sides are talking tough.
The Americans say it is unacceptable protectionism and producers can use trademarks, though the US considers names like Feta to be generic and so not protectable by trademarks.
The Europeans say no protection means no trade deal.
With over 1,200 food products and close to 2,000 wine names having so-called ‘geographical indicator’ status negotiations could be bruising.
Already Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and French President François Hollande are threatening vetos if the issue is not resolved.
The matter is being discussed this week by the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
The Greek Minister of Rural Development and Food Evengelos Apostolou told Euronews that the Athens government will try to keep Feta protected but added: “It is a very hard battle to win”.