The Name Game

The 15-nation European Union (EU) is attempting to tie a diverse assortment of product names to specific geographical locations and traditional means of production. Included among the list of 41 products are such wines and spirits as Bordeaux and Ouzo, pork products including prosciutto di Parma, and Gorgonzola and Feta cheeses. In fact, if the proposal is approved at an upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), none of 146 WTO members—including the U.S.—would be allowed to use the term “champagne” to describe sparkling wine produced outside the Champagne region of France.

For its part, the U.S. has been fairly quiet on the issue, though a spokesperson did state that many of the product names have become generic over time.

Thanks to a 1994 agreement between the EU and U.S., certain products already are recognized based on their region of origin. Bourbon whiskey and Tennessee whiskey are two examples of strictly U.S. products. In return for that recognition, U.S. producers may not use the names Scotch whisky, cognac, armagnac, calvados and brandy de Jerez.

According to the EU trade commissioner, “Abuses...undermine the reputation of EU products and create confusion for consumers. We want this to cease for the most usurped products in the world.” The EU further believes that a well-established link to the territories of origin is essential to the perceived value of many of the products.

The EU expects support from other countries, as well. India and Switzerland are two likely supporters, respectively hoping to have Darjeeling tea and Etivaz cheese recognized. However, even EU members are split on certain issues. For example, Denmark also would like permission to make and market feta.

The Blame Game

A recent study by ACNielsen (New York) found that two out of three U.S. households believed the parent or guardian was to blame for the rising obesity rates of children 17 and under. Fast-food restaurants were cited as the culprit by 10%, with only 1% laying the blame at the feet of food manufacturers.

Of the 22,000 households responding, 9% blamed the children themselves, with media (advertising on television, radio and other means) receiving the blame of 7% of respondents.

As the U.S. combats what some describe as an obesity epidemic, lawsuits have been filed against fast-food restaurants and food makers, although as of yet, the more-notable cases have been dismissed. McDonald's (Oak Brook, Ill.) is one of the most recent to fend off an obesity-based lawsuit, brought by lawyers on behalf of a 12-year-old weighing 170 pounds.

In attempts to provide healthful snacks to children in the education system, many schools around the country have been pressured to remove vending machines carrying sugar-laden sodas and fat-filled snacks. The ACNielsen study found that more than three out of four households believe schools should adopt new policies to address child obesity. Some 41% believed schools should ban outright the sale or consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages on their grounds, with 38% of respondents arguing that students should not be allowed to bring such products on campus.

When allowed to blame to more than one culprit, respondents still placed the bulk of the responsibility on the parents (86%). Fast-food establishments were named by 60%. At the bottom of the list were food manufacturers, tallying 18% of households.

Sidebar: By Any Other Name...

Terms the EU is seeking to tie to specific eographical locations and traditional means of production.

Wine & Spirits
Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Cognac, Grappa di Barolo, del Piemonte, di Lombardia, del Trentino, del Friuli, del Veneto, dell'Alto Adige, Graves, Liebfrau(en)milch, Malaga, Marsala, Madeira, Médoc, Moselle, Ouzo, Porto, Rhin, Rioja, Saint-Emilion, Sauternes, Jerez, Xerez

Other products
Asiago, Azafrán de la Mancha, Comté, Feta, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, Jijona y Turrón de Alicante, Manchego, Mortadella Bologna, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Prosciutto Toscano, Queijo São Jorge, Reblochon, Roquefort

Sidebar: THE IN BOX

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Foodservice Strategies Inc. (Walled Lake, Mich.) has released its 2003-2004 edition of its Foodservice MasterSource CD. The update promises more than 3,000 changes to the previous version.

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