Food: Halloumi cheese remains protected: EU court dismisses lawsuit

According to a court ruling, the halloumi from Cyprus, known as grilled cheese, is still protected by an EU label and must be made largely from sheep's or goat's milk or a mixture of both.

Food: Halloumi cheese remains protected: EU court dismisses lawsuit

According to a court ruling, the halloumi from Cyprus, known as grilled cheese, is still protected by an EU label and must be made largely from sheep's or goat's milk or a mixture of both. The General Court of the European Union dismissed an action by a Cypriot company to annul a decision by the EU Commission on requirements for halloumi production.

In 2021, at the request of Cyprus, the Commission registered halloumi as an EU-wide protected designation of origin. As the court announced, Cyprus had specified that the proportion of sheep's and/or goat's milk must be higher than that of cow's milk. Because of this requirement, various Cypriot halloumi producers challenged the Commission's decision before the EU General Court. However, the court dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety. Action can still be taken against this before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Among other things, the plaintiffs cited a 1985 national standard that fresh and ripe halloumi had a "pleasant and characteristic" smell and taste. However, in Cyprus' application for the protected designation of origin, this characterization goes into even greater detail. It says that fresh halloumi smells strongly of milk or whey and has an aroma and taste of mint, a stable smell and a sharp, salty taste. Ripe halloumi also has a slightly bitter taste.

In doing so, the court largely followed the Commission's reasoning, which also sees that Cyprus' application for geographical protection imposes more specific requirements, but these would not contradict the 1985 norm. The General Court also rejects the argument that the Commission did not carry out a sufficient analysis of the market and the situation of the companies concerned.

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