Senator Murphy Puts the EU's Cheese Claims to the Test

Mar 18, 2014

Beaver Brook Farm's raw cow milk feta beat out a Greek sheep and goat milk feta in the Connecticut Cheese Challenge.
Credit The Matheson / Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy participated in the Connecticut Cheese Challenge on Tuesday. The purpose of the taste test was to prove to the European Union that American- made cheeses are just as good as their European counterparts.

The EU has a problem with American cheese makers producing and labeling cheeses with European names, like brie, parmesan, and gouda. The EU said the American varieties pale in comparison to the original, and cut into European profits.

The EU also said these cheeses refer to a geographical location. Suzanne Sankow of Lyme's Beaver Brook Farm, who hosted Tuesday's cheese challenge, said her feta is no different than Greek feta. "The only difference would be the quality of the milk," she said. "The cultures are probably the same, because they are ancient. They are not making new cultures. I use a feta culture, and it's an imported feta culture."

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy also has a problem with the EU's rationale. In a letter, he urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. trade representative to oppose the EU's initiative, which his office called "absurd."

To prove his point, Murphy took a blind taste test to determine who makes the better feta: Sankow, or a quality European-made feta. The winner: Sankow's raw cow milk feta won hands down over a pasteurized sheep and goat milk feta from Greece.