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The AOC and DOP Cheese

by Albertina Roca   |   January 16, 2015   |  

A Guide To Protected Designation of Origin Labels in Foods

The world of gourmet food and fancy ingredients is a varied and sometimes complicated one. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of counterfeiting in the food world. Tales of trout sold as salmon, diluted olive oil, and other eyebrow raising stories abound. In order to address this issue, for hundreds of years – less for other products – some foods have been given a protected denomination of origin label. That can mean a lot of different things depending on the country and the product, but in general lines, it means the food in question comes from a specific region or area, bound by official production rules and requirements. There is usually a group or consortium that supervises the label, ensuring that the product is authentic and of course, worthy of the name. Thus, Champagne must come from Champagne, Parmiggiano Reggiano produced a certain way, Roquefort made from a certain breed of sheep, Manchego cheese must come from La Mancha, to name a few examples.

Within each country, certain different labels might be used, so knowing labels and knowing what they mean is important when buying certain foods. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you get what you paid for, but moreover, that the flavor and quality are impeccable. Below we give you a rundown of the two most known protected label – the French AOC and the Italian DOP.


aoc logo

Whenever you read about the most famous and sophisticated French cheeses, you will usually find it certified by the label “AOC”. Right away, you know that this cheese must be pretty important to receive such recognition- even though you may not know exactly what the AOC is. First created in the 15th century, this French label stands for “Appellation d’Origine Côntrolée”, which means controlled label of origin. This guarantees that the milk is from a fixed geographical area, along with the cheese’s production and maturity. It also follows a traditional method of producing the cheese, as well as storing and ensuring an optimal degree of humidity in the storage room and cheese counter. Representatives from the label inspect the cheese and its production in order to ensure that it follows these guidelines.


dop logo

The Italians have their own way of guaranteeing fromaggio lovers that their cheese is of the highest quality. A cheese awarded the DOP is most special DOP stands for “Denominazione di Origine Protetta”, which means Protected Designation of Origin. Similar to the AOC, the DOP guarantees that the milk of the cheese and production are on a certain location in Italy. Also, the Denominazione di Origine Protetta insure the methods of production must be traditional, and have fixed storage guidelines to ensure that the cheese age correctly. It is mark of optimal quality and high standards.

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