In the previous post about French cheeses, I touched on the designation of “AOC” which in French is Appellation d’origine controlee. Translated this means “controlled term of origin” and is the French government certification granted to certain French geographical indications for cheeses, butters, wines and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau, Institut National des Appellations d’Origine.
The INAO guarantees that all AOC products adhere to a clearly defined set of standards and guarantee that the products will be produced in a consistent and traditional manner with ingredients from specific producers in the designated geographical areas. Also, the product must be at least partially aged in the designated area.
Roquefort, in 1925, was the first cheese to receive the AOC designation. Now there are over 40 cheeses with that designation.
Italy uses a similar designation known as DOC, Denominazione di origine controllata. It is modeled after the French system; however the DOC has three levels of labels. In addition to DOC, the other two levels are DOCG and DO. While the DOC designation is used on Italian cheeses; it is far more associated with Italian wines.
Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria all have similar systems.
Since the inception of the European Union (EU), a new designation has been developed to cover all high-quality food products under the designation of PDO, “Protected Designation of Origin.
For more information, please visit wikipedia, which covers all of these designations extensively.