Cyprus wins EU protection for halloumi cheese

Halloumi is the most famous traditional cheese in Cyprus. [SHUTTERSTOCK/MOVINGMOVEMENT]

Halloumi, a traditional Cypriot cheese known as Hellim in Turkish, is to be entered to the EU’s register of protected designations of origin, a move intended to promote unity on the divided island.

Usually made from goat and sheep’s milk, halloumi is currently only a registered trademark, giving it less protection from production made elsewhere.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in a tweet on Monday (29 March) hailed a “milestone day for #Halloumi/ #Hellim and our country”.

“A shield of protection is now in place. Significant prospects for increasing exports of our national product, to the benefit of all Cypriot producers, Greek and Turkish,” he wrote.

The designation, which was agreed by EU member states last week, means that only cheese made in Cyprus under specified conditions can be called halloumi, or hellim.

Its formal adoption and publication are now expected by mid-April, an EU spokeswoman told AFP on Tuesday.

“This is a historic achievement for Cyprus,” crowning “years of efforts”, said EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, herself a Cypriot.

Eaten as a salad or on a skewer, halloumi is often grilled or fried in olive oil, as cooking does not prevent it from retaining its firmness due to a high melting point.

In August 2020, Cyprus became the first country among the EU’s 27 member states to reject the ratification of the EU-Canada free trade agreement over concerns for the lack of legal protections for halloumi.

Bulgaria has been producing halloumi-type cheese, but has modified its name to avoid challenges in court.

EU Court leaves Cyprus on the grill as halloumi trademark rift heats up

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has dismissed the claim of a Cypriot producers’ organisation who challenged the trademark validation of Bulgarian halloumi-sounding products arguing that they could deceive consumers.

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