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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 13:21 GMT
Poles and Slovaks in cheese stink
Polish Oscypek cheese on cart
The Oscypek tradition goes back centuries in the Tatra region
Poland and Slovakia are engaged in a European Union row over the right to register a traditional smoked cheese, called oscypek.

Oscypek is made from ewe's milk, soaked in brine and smoked. Poland had wanted it added to the EU's protected list this month.

But Slovakia has objected, meaning that neither country can lay claim to it.

They now have six months to come to an amicable solution. If not, the EU will have to rule on the matter.

Oscypek would have become only the second listed agricultural product from the eight Eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004, the Associated Press reports.

The first was Budejovicke beer from the Czech Republic.

Geographically correct

Michael Mann, the EU Commission agriculture spokesman, said he hoped the two countries could come to an agreement.

It is not the first time that traditional foods have been at the centre of arguments between countries.

The most famous case is that of feta cheese, historically a Greek product.

Producers from Denmark and Germany argued that they could call their cheese feta, but the EU finally threw out their protests after a lengthy battle.

From October, only feta produced in Greece can carry the name feta.

There are more than 700 of these geographical indications, ranging from West Country farmhouse cheddar to Parma ham.

Mr Mann says such geographical correctness is worthwhile.

"It helps consumers know they are buying what they think they are buying, and it is a way of helping the producer market its produce better," he told the BBC News website.


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