The Swiss government introduced new rules Wednesday to protect products from the Alpine region. From the beginning of next year, the label "Alpine" can only be used for products that abide by the region's regulations.

"/> The Swiss government introduced new rules Wednesday to protect products from the Alpine region. From the beginning of next year, the label "Alpine" can only be used for products that abide by the region's regulations.

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FARMING

Federal Council moves to protect “Alpine” label

The Swiss government introduced new rules Wednesday to protect products from the Alpine region. From the beginning of next year, the label "Alpine" can only be used for products that abide by the region's regulations.

Once the new regulations come into force next January, the term “Alpine” can only be used to market dairy and meat products if they fulfil special conditions and have been approved by a certification office.

Terms that attempt to evade the rules, like “Alp Beef” or “Mountain Tea,” will also not be allowed, the Department of Economic Affairs declared.

The Federal Council has also introduced new regulations in response to the recent dioxin scandal and fears over irradiated food imported from Japan.

In the future, the department of agriculture will be able to demand a certificate to guarantee that seed, seedlings, fertilizer, pesticide and animal feed has not been polluted or irradiated.

The government also announced that Switzerland would fall in line with European Union regulations on feeding slops to pigs.

Since 2006, it has been illegal to feed pork slops to pigs in the EU. The Swiss government agreed to abide by the regulation in order to protect Swiss exports, but managed to negotiate a transition period so that the country’s pig farmers could adapt their production.

bk/The Local

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SWISS CHEESE

How Switzerland is protecting its cheeses from foreign influence

Neutral Switzerland has not been involved in any foreign wars for centuries, but lately the country has been doing battle over its cheese.

How Switzerland is protecting its cheeses from foreign influence

Makers of the country’s iconic Emmental and Gruyère cheeses have been locked in legal battles to protect their product from inferior foreign imitations. 

Named after the Bern’s Emmental valley where it is produced, the Emmental cheese has a distinctly mild and nutty taste and is also the only Swiss cheese with holes, which “range from the size of cherries to the size of nuts and are formed during the maturation process”, according to Switzerland Cheese Marketing board.

In Switzerland, the Emmental is protected by an AOP — Appellation d’Origine Protégée, which means the product is entirely made in its region of origin.

This label also means the cheese must meet strict criteria, such as the size of the holes, which should ideally be between two and four centimetres in diameter.

However, the Emmental is also made in France and Germany, but Swiss producers claim foreign cheese does not meet the same exacting standards and has little to do with the original recipe.

They have been fighting for years for better protection of the brand manufactured and sold outside Switzerland, but to avail: the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that “Emmental” doesn’t designate the geographical origin of the product, but only a certain type of cheese with holes.

This decision really cheesed the Swiss off and they filed a complaint against EUIPO’s decision with the General Court of the European Union, which will begin deliberations in September.

READ MORE: Ten varieties of cheese you should be able to identify if you live in Switzerland

However, the Emmental is not the only Swiss cheese caught up in an international legal tangle; Gruyère suffered a similar fate.

An American court ruled in January 2022 that ‘Gruyere cheese’ does not have to be made in the Gruyères region — or even in Switzerland, for that matter —in order to bear the name. 

Swiss cheesemakers said they would appeal the US ruling, but in the meantime the verdict grates on their nerves.

“Gruyère represents a centuries-old traditional recipe, and a region of Switzerland,” an angry Philippe Bardet, director of the Association of Swiss Gruyère Producers, told Switzerland’s Blick newspaper.

“When consumers buy a Gruyère in the United States, they have no idea what awaits them”, he said. “Does the cheese have holes? What milk was it made with?”

Bardet pointed out that Swiss Gruyère producers use only raw milk from cows that eat natural food  — pasture grass in summer and hay in winter .

But in  America, “they use cheap milk”, he said. 

READ MORE: Why are Swiss angry with Americans about Gruyere cheese?

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