Commission warns Prague about ‘Greek-style’ yoghurt use

Euractiv — The use of “Greek yoghurt” labeling in a Czech Republic draft bill has angered the  Greek government  – which has urged the Commission to intervene.

On 7 April 2015, the Czech Republic notified the European Commission of a draft decree, laying down requirements for milk and dairy products, ice creams and edible fats and oils to the Commission.

The commission approved the draft legislation thus enabling the Czech Republic to market Greek – Style yoghurt.

A European Commission Spokesperson told that the labeling of “Greek-style yoghurt” was a specific point of this larger and general Czech draft decree.

Already disappointed by the lack of protection for its traditional Feta cheese (Protected Designation of Origin) under the trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA), Athens reacted strongly to the use of “Greek-style yoghurt”, especially by another EU member state.

Greek Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Evangelos Apostolou recently sent a letter to Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, as well as EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, expressing his disagreement with this specific provision of the Czech Republic decree.

Apostolou stressed that the use of both the name “Greek” yoghurt and “Greek-style” yoghurt was contrary to EU Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, which provides that food information should not be misleading.

Commission’s view

The EU executive decision seems to be confirming the Greek argument.

Contacted by EurActiv, a European Commission spokesperson noted that the product name “Greek yogurt” was not protected by a geographical indication.“However, it is a fundamental requirement of the Union rules on food information, that food labelling must not mislead consumers as to the characteristics of the food including its identity and origin,” the EU official stressed, adding that a dialogue between the Commission and the Czech authorities concerning the use of the term “Greek yoghurt” is ongoing.

Dairy Reporter: In 2013 the High Court of England and Wales has restricted US firm  Chobani from marketing its product as Greek yogurt in London and Wales, saying the term is confusing to consumers.