This blog post attempts to explain the difference between AOC, DOC, DO, PDO, PGI, TSG labelling on Cheeses.
The EU established a system to guard the geographical names of certain foods. This legislation first came into force in 1992 and had several updates. The last one – issue by Council Regulation 1151/2012, extends the protection to translations of the name, evocation, misuse or imitation.
The EU scheme in place, identifies and protects the names of quality agricultural products and foods as the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) – have a specific link to the region where the product comes from, while the third one – the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) – highlights a traditional production process.
Cheeses PDO and Cheeses PGI
Several European cheeses have been granted Protected Geographical Status under European Union law through the PDO and PGI regimes. These standards of the European system guarantee the quality of the cheeses – from the milk producer to the affineur, protects them from copies and allows the consumer to confidently buy them. Some examples of PDO Cheeses are Beaufort (2003), Bleu d’Auvergne (1996), Ossau-Iraty (2003) and for PGI, Gruyère and Saint-Marcellin, both from 2013 among others.
Cheeses AOC, Cheeses DOC and Cheeses DO
Besides European legislation, some national member states have their own body of legislation, prior to the EU, which also attest the traditions and qualities of their products.
Certifying the origin of a cheese recognises its terroir (French), tipicità (Italian) or calidad superior (Spain), acknowledging that the unique character of each traditionally made food is a result of a complex interaction of soil, plant life, and climate, combined with traditional production methods and raw materials.