Murphy Condemns European Union's Cheese Naming Proposal

When it comes to cheese, Sen. Chris Murphy and his knife know their way around the block.

At an appearance Murphy called the "cheese challenge," the senator cut thin slices of Beaver Brook feta to demonstrate what would happen to Connecticut cheese makers if a European Union proposal to limit the use of cheese names to their geographic origins is pushed through.

"Naming rights are always controversial but in this specific product," Murphy said. "It really makes sense to acknowledge that the place where the cheese may have originated is inconsequential."

The cost of compliance would be consequential, said Suzanne Sankow of Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm, maker of the feta cheese.

"Many people would just walk through a farmer's market and say, 'I want feta. Do you have some?' And I would have to say I make one but I can't name it. And they would assume it wasn't feta," she said.

Murphy said the proposal could lead to misconceptions about Connecticut cheese.

"They would assume two things: that it's different, and that it's worse. Neither are true," said Murphy.

Actually, the farm's feta is a little different because it's made with cow's milk rather than sheep's milk, but wherever it's made, feta is defined by being cured in brine for two months.

Murphy said negotiations on a trade deal with the EU have just begun and won't conclude until 2015.

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