EU got to be joking! UK Vegan cheese manufacturer blocked by Brussels from calling its Italian-style product PARMESANS after threats of legal action
- East London company I AM NUT OK developed its Vegan Parmesan cheese
- The firm wanted to call the product Parmesans – a witty play on the name
- However EU protected designation of origin rules prevent this type of marketing
- Italian manufacturers sent legal letters to the UK firm to force a name cahnge
It seemed to be the perfect solution for vegans who want the taste of parmesan but without any dairy product.
But the cleverly named ‘ParmeSans’ has incurred the wrath of Italian cheese-makers who jealously guard their trademark name.
And after the Consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano threatened legal action, British artisan vegan cheese company I Am Nut OK has been forced to change the name.
UK firm I Am Nut OK’ faced legal action after calling its grated Italian-style product Parmesans – despite not having any dairy products. The Consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano threatened legal action in an effort to protect the name Parmesan, which is guaranteed under EU protected designation of origin rules
The cheese has legal protection under European law, meaning only Parmigiano Reggiano PDO (protected designation of origin) cheese can be sold as ‘parmesan’ in Europe. The same legislation applies to products from Melton Mowbray pork pies to champagne.
I Am Nut OK’s product is now called ‘Italian Grated Cheese Alternative’ and its label reads ‘Oh, Grate! Alternative to a certain cheese we cannot mention’.
On Twitter, the East London company said: ‘Italian Consorzio for Parmigiano is trying to sue us for using the word ParmeSans. They want us to immediately stop selling our product, destroy all on shelves and pay them for the legal fees for sending us this letter. Now, are you for real?’
Their ‘cheese alternative’ is made from cashews, yeast, Himalayan salt, garlic and truffle oil.
A statement from the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium details how ‘the counterfeit jars in question were discovered in Selfridges in the days preceding the Christmas holidays’, adding that it ‘intervened to eliminate the sale of an illegal product’.
It argues that the use of ‘ParmeSans ’ would ‘tarnish the Parmigiano Reggiano name… as well as creating confusion for customers’.
Established in 1901, the consortium carries out 2,000 inspections of parmesan products a year and operates in 27 countries. Its Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can be produced in only five places in northern Italy: Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua.
The UK imported 6,940 tons of Parmigiano Reggiano in 2018.
Consortium president Nicola Bertinelli said: ‘This shows us it is possible to fight and win against cases of illegitimate branding. The consortium monitors these cases on the field daily and will continue to do so.’