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Swiss seek to protect Emmental cheese from imitators

Switzerland wants to protect the Emmentaler appellation Keystone Archive

Its many holes give it a distinctive appearance, but when it comes to taste not everyone can tell the difference between a genuine Swiss Emmental cheese and one of its many imitators.

Every year 500,000 tonnes of Emmental are produced around the world, but only one in 10 cheeses boasts the trademark “Emmentaler Switzerland”.

To protect the name of one of Switzerland’s most famous products and to ensure that consumers know what they’re buying, Swiss researchers are looking at ways of making home-produced Emmental more distinctive.

The Swiss dairy research institute expects to spend two years studying different methods for differentiating between the genuine article and its foreign imitators.

Researcher Jacques Olivier Bosset said different methods would be used to try to determine the origin of the cheeses tested. Initially they will limit their experiments to Emmental manufactured in Europe.

At present France produces six times as much Emmental as Switzerland, while the Netherlands and Germany produce twice as much. Sweden, Finland, Austria, Denmark and Ireland also manufacture their own versions of the hole-filled cheese.

The Swiss dairy industry complains that some countries try to pass off cheaper versions of the Swiss cheese as the genuine article. The issue is expected to assume more importance when the bilateral accords with the European Union are ratified and restrictions on exports are gradually lifted.

While most Emmental-type cheeses are made from pasteurised cheese, Swiss Emmental is made exclusively from unpasteurised milk processed in traditional copper vats.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR