Feta cheese from Denmark will become history after the European Union ruled only Greece makes the real thing.
The European Commission yesterday adopted a formal decision that feta cheese was only feta if it was made in specific parts of Greece, giving the product the same kind of protection as parma ham or Champagne.
"After this ruling feta cheese can only be made in certain regions of Greece and respecting strict product specifications," the Commission said in a statement.
"Other Member States or those who do not respect these specifications have a maximum of five years to modify their description or to stop production," it added.
The EU ruling is a victory for Greece, where the salty, soft white cheese is believed to have been produced for around 6,000 years. Athens had lobbied furiously for years to have feta protected and Greek food producers and restaurateurs hailed the ruling.
"It's what we have tried to achieve for so many years and now we did it. We are happy," said an official at Delta Holding, one of Greece's largest food companies.
Greece's agriculture ministry is due to issue a statement on the ruling today.
Although Denmark is one of the best known makers of feta, the cheese is also produced in other EU states such as Germany.
Greece has campaigned since 1994 for geographical protection for the cheese which is made of a blend of sheep and goat's milk.
Some countries had argued the term feta was generic and the European Court of Justice ruled in 1999 there was not enough evidence to link feta to a geographical origin.
But the EU executive said earlier this year it now had more information showing consumers overwhelmingly associated feta with Greece and that products elsewhere were mainly made from cow's milk, using different techniques.