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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Food firm cheesed off over ruling
Judy Bell with the Yorkshire 'Feta'
Judy Bell must now find another name for the Greek-style cheese
A North Yorkshire food producer has revealed her disappointment after an EU ruling stopped her using the name "feta" on her locally-produced cheese.

Judy Bell, who runs Shepherds Purse Cheeses near Thirsk, said she was not surprised by the ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Mrs Bell's business has been caught up in a five-year tussle within Europe over the feta name.

But on Tuesday, judges ruled Greek feta had "Protected Designation of Origin".

'Expensive changes'

Judy Bell had wanted to continue calling her product Yorkshire feta.

The European judges ruled that only cheese made in certain areas of Greece should be allowed to use the name "feta".

The verdict had been anxiously awaited by Shepherd's Purse Cheeses, which now faces a major and expensive rebranding exercise.

The case was brought by Denmark and Germany, seeking to challenge European Commission rules designed to protect certain place names used on food labelling.

In 2002 the Commission gave Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status to feta cheese made to certain specifications in certain parts of Greece.

The court battle over feta hinged on whether the term was so familiar it should be deemed a generic name available to all cheese producers making feta-style cheese, or whether it needed tougher legal protection to discourage imitators.

The Germans and Danes went to court because of their significant domestic production of "feta" cheese, which they wanted to preserve.

We have never tried to pull the wool over anyone's eyes - it is very clear from the label that it's Yorkshire feta
Cheesemaker Judy Bell

Under the same PDO heading, the Commission also protected Parma ham, French Champagne, and, in Britain, at least 25 products, including Shetland lamb, Whitstable oysters and Newcastle brown ale.

But Yorkshire pudding is deemed to be a generic term and does not have to be made in Yorkshire to qualify to use the name.

The judges decreed on Tuesday that "feta" is too closely associated with its acknowledged Greek roots for the name to be divorced from its geographical background.

When the feta battle reached court earlier this year, Ms Bell, founder of Shepherd's Purse, warned that a final ruling in Greece's favour would hit her firm hard, as it would cost a huge amount to rebrand its feta output.

"We will have to go through a massive remerchandising process and reorganisation" she said.

"We have never tried to pull the wool over anyone's eyes - it is very clear from the label that it's Yorkshire feta."

European blow for UK cheesemaker
10 May 05 |  Business
Yorkshire feta fights Euro rule
15 Feb 05 |  North Yorkshire

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