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Swiss win the Gruyère war

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It was nicknamed the Gruyère War: a bitter three-year battle between French and Swiss cheesemakers over who made the real celebrated cheese.

In the end, the conflict was over before it began after the Swiss – backed by European Union experts – emerged victorious.

Makers of French Gruyère and Swiss Gruyère, which have a different taste and appearance, had both claimed the prestigious mark of quality the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in their respective countries. AOCs are an official mark of quality awarded to regional products with specific characteristics and taste produced with traditional methods.

But the French got greedy and sought to have their gruyère recognised more widely with a prestigious Appellation d’Origine Protegée (AOP) handed out by the EU as a mark of international recognition. The Swiss complained, arguing the very name Gruyère comes from one of their towns nestling in the Alpine foothills, and that they had been making the celebrated cheese for centuries…

The EU was called in to adjudicate and found the French argument had a few holes of its own, namely that it was matured outside of the area it was produced in – mostly near France’s border with Switzerland – and so did not appear to qualify for an AOP. Having digested the official report, which said the French case was “weak”, Gallic Gruyère makers threw in the towel.

Swiss Gruyère rules.

You needn’t be a Packers’ fan to be a proper cheesehead.

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Written by Ed Campbell

August 16, 2010 at 2:00 am

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