The customs department late on Monday issued a statement clarifying that no checks are carried out within the EU single market for products labelled ‘halloumi’ which do not also carry the now-required PDO certification.
“The free movement of goods, which is the cornerstone of the EU single market, would be hindered by such checks,” the statement said.
The department further clarified that it carries out checks only in cases where reasonable suspicion exists or information related to trading of products that do not comply with PDO specifications or are incorrectly labelled.
The official statement comes comes on the heels of accusations levelled at the agriculture ministry that the difficult to hammer out halloumi agreement reached earlier in the year, had not been implemented properly, and that no checks have been carried out on whether products sold under the PDO label in fact conform to the label’s specifications. Additionally, the accusation has been leveled that sheep and goat farmers have not been compensated 10 cents per litre of milk, as stipulated in the agreement.
The agreement reached between cheese makers, farmers and the ministry in July set a transitional period during which halloumi will have 10 per cent goat and sheep milk, until January 2023. After that, the specifications will jump to 20 per cent, and thereafter the portioning will increase by five per cent a year – reaching 50 per cent by 2029.