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Edible imposters Survey reveals abuse of special origin food labels

Switzerland's Gruyère cheese enjoys a "protected designation of origin" status

(Keystone)

Over 20% of food products claiming to be traditional specialties or local produce are not authentic, according to a survey conducted by cantonal chemists. Swiss produce claiming to be of “mountain” or “alpine” origin were particularly vulnerable to fraud. 

Of the close to 1,500 Swiss and European products checked by the authorities, slightly more than 300 turned out to be fakes. In addition, almost 40% of the 1,000 establishments inspected – such as restaurants, bakeries, butchers and cheese shops – were found to contain the fake produce. 

Over a third of Swiss products advertised as of “mountain” or “Alpine” origin failed to meet these criteria. Dried meat from canton Valais and Damson plum liqueur from canton Jura were the Swiss products that were most often misappropriated. Among non-Swiss products, Parmesan and Feta cheese, as well as Parma ham, were most often associated with false claims. 

Depending on the nature of the violations, the offenders were given a warning or passed on to the appropriate authorities for prosecution. 

The first Swiss food product to benefit from a “protected designation of origin” status was Etivaz cheese from the canton of Vaud in 2000.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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