Larnaca airport authorities on Thursday seized two shipments of non-specification halloumi cheese due to be exported to Romania and Bahrain, reports said on Thursday.
The quantities involved were not immediately known.
Regarding the incident, the commerce ministry said it was strengthening checks to ensure that halloumi that falls outside production standards and specifications, is not allowed to be sold either domestically or abroad.
Since the cancellation of the halloumi trademark in the UK, a special unit for halloumi trademarks was created. This unit prepared an action plan regarding the sales in the Cypriot market and the foreign market.
Commerce minister George Lakkotrypis stated that checks have intensified on the domestic market and letters of formal warnings are sent to cheesemakers who manufacture products outside the bounds of the law.
The Cyprus Mail spoke with Larnaca airport customs, who would not give any further details, while the commerce ministry refrained from giving more information other than what the minister told daily Phileleftheros. However, the commerce ministry was able to confirm that on Thursday two shipments were seized.
Audits have been stepped up regarding halloumi sales following the creation of a special brand management unit under the direct supervision of the permanent secretary of the commerce ministry.
Following the loss of the halloumi trademark in the UK late last year, authorities intensified efforts to ensure the cheese contains the designated proportions of milk and milk powder. Attempts are also being made to crack down on halloumi products containing flavours and aromas, such as chili, basil and pepper.
Authorities are concerned that an effort is underway by merchants to render halloumi a generic product by including in it ingredients not designated by the standards.
Thursday’s seizures of non-specification halloumi can also be seen as a bid by authorities to deny producers overseas the ammunition to claim that the product is generic.
Despite the loss of the trademark in the UK, the EU collective community mark ‘Halloumi’, registered on 14 July 2000, remains in force across the EU.
Under the collective community mark, halloumi is produced only in Cyprus with certain ingredients and production methods, while the producers are Cypriots and are registered in a registry in Cyprus.