Fonterra chief Craig Norgate has told the International Dairy Federation (IDF) Conference in Paris that the geographical protection of cheese names was “spiralling into absurdity”.

Several countries in the EU have made moves to prohibit the use of names for cheese produced outside the specific region of origination. Italy wants to outlaw the use of the name parmesan to sell any cheese not produced in Parma, while Greece wants a similar protection for feta.

Dairy manufacturers outside of the EU, such as Fonterra, argue that names such as feta, cheddar, parmesan and emmental are established as generic product terms, and no longer refer simply to the cheeses produced in those geographical areas. Norgate rejected the idea that the name cheddar could only be used for cheese produced within the vicinity of the English town of Cheddar as absurd and unrealistic.

Norgate also said that the IDF World Trade Organisation should hold a debate about so-called “new issues” – from sustainable development to food safety, reported New Zealand Press Association.