The Cheese Custody

(New Warsaw Express, March 2007)

“We were not expecting an objection from the Slovakians,” says Dariusz Goszczyński, Deputy Director of the Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Goszczyński is commenting on the tug-of-war between Poland and Slovakia over which country is the rightful heir to the name of oscypek, a smoked cheese produced in the region of the Tatry mountains. The registration of a product name for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) allows producers in a given area the exclusive right to use the product name.

“In December 2005, [there was] a meeting of experts from Slovakia and Poland, … Conclusions from this meeting were confirmed in letters exchanged by the Polish and Slovakian ministers of agriculture. We agreed that Slovakian ostiepok and Polish oscypek are two different cheeses. Slovakian cheese is made mainly of cow’s milk while oscypek is made of sheep’s milk and no more 40% cow’s milk is added,” says Goszczyński. “The Slovakians expressed their regret over the latest situation, but still it is unintelligible for us in the light of the letters mentioned above.”

The Slovak’s volte-face in late Jan 2007 kicks off a lengthy process.

“First of all we have to wait until the European Commission notifies Poland that a duly substantiated objection was lodged,” says Goszczyński. “Then, within six months Slovakia and Poland should reach an agreement. If not, the Commission will decide on the registration of the oscypek name.”

In a different cheese war, the EU threw out Denmark and Germany’s case and accorded Greece the right to the feta cheese’s name.

(New Warsaw Express, March 2007)