How to Spot Real Feta Cheese in Australia

Greek Ambassador to Australia Katerina Xagorari and Greek Trade Commissioner Katia Gkikiza participated in an event aimed to promote Greek food in Sydney on Saturday.

The event was organized by the Embassy of Italy and the European Union as the second round of negotiations kick off for the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Australia.

Products containing a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) symbols from different EU countries were presented at the show. PDO is a European Union designation which protects the reputation of unique regional foods on the international market. The mark helps producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products, while eliminating unfair competition and the misleading of consumers by imitation products.

Most prominent among the products was the famed feta cheese from Greece. But along with feta, Greece exhibited other unique foods such as Manouri cheese, Kolymvari Chanion olive oil,  Masticha Chiou mastic gum, and Kritiko Paximadi wheat rusks. All very distinctive products, and all bearing the PDO label, which enables consumers to locate authentic Greek-produced foods.

How to spot real feta cheese

For cheese to be named ‘feta’ in the E.U. it must be from Greece, and is usually from the famous feta-producing areas of Dodoni, Epirus, Kalavryta, or Argos. It must be made from whole sheep’s and/or goat’s milk and have no preservatives or other additives.

Although some modern processes have been implemented to a certain degree in some areas of production (such as automated cutting and salting), traditional techniques must always be respected. This ensures that Greek feta cheese retains a certain taste and aroma that distinguishes it from other products bearing the feta name.

Feta and “fetta”

Surprisingly, in Australia, cheesemakers do not currently adhere to PDO restrictions and . the result is that any white cheese can be called feta. Many local “fetas” are made from cheaper cow’s milk and have a taste uncharacteristic of traditional feta. Many local “feta-style” cheeses use the term ‘fetta’ (with two t’s) to differentiate from the original feta.

Unfortunately, the majority of Australian consumers do not understand the difference between a genuine PDO Feta vs a local imitation, or appreciate the costly and involved process that PDO manufacturers undertake in making the real thing. Perhaps in the future, as a result of food shows such as these, Australians can appreciate and begin to buy authentic Greek feta and its many other unique food products.