As Europe has recently started a legal battle with the US to prevent Americans from using certain European cheese-identifying terms, I think it’s a good moment to see why those names – representing geographical indications – should matter for American consumers too.
As you would know if you are a cheese lover, a cheese sold in the US as a “Manchego type” of cheese bears no resemblance with the real Manchego that carries the PDO label. This misuse causes confusion amongst consumers and damages the image of the authentic product.
But, why should we as consumers look for cheeses with a specific origin, granted by a PDO label such as Manchego?
- Quality. The PDO label is always a guarantee of high quality standards. Behind each PDO there’s a regulating council makings sure every single cheese is up to certain high standards established by each specific PDO. In that manner, the PDO label works like a brand, representing certain values a specific way of doing things.
- Taste. If you’ve tried a “Manchego type of cheese” and think that’s how Manchego tastes like, you don’t know what you’re missing. As the quality and cultural baggage a PDO represents has its best expression on an original taste. PDOs are there to preserve those authentic tastes.
- Tradition. The PDO label protects products that are part of traditional culture expressions – this includes traditional craftsmanship, rituals, music, art and much more. They are the expression of a region’s tradition, of its people and its heritage, something that has been passed from generation to generation. Consuming products with PDO helps protect that valuable heritage.
- Food safety. Of course, the strict standards set by the PDO Councils also apply to food safety. With all this amount of careful food monitoring, you can be sure that a product carrying a PDO label has been produced following natural processes and is 100% sure to be eaten.
- Environment. Last but not least, when you buy a cheese with PDO you can be sure it has been elaborated following ancient traditions, in a manner that is respectful with the animals and the natural environment of that region.
Do you like the authentic tastes, love traditions, respect the environment and want to buy a top quality cheese that taste amazing? Look for the PDO label!