Difference between the protected designation of origin and the controlled designation of origin

Difference between the protected designation of origin and the controlled designation of origin

When talking about cheese, some people think about its color, ask question about how holes are created, or why there are blue and orange cheese. The infinite diversity of cheeses leads us to the question of “How to make cheese?


Controlled designation of origin, it is a classification created by the French government in 1935, designating a French official label, which also exists in other countries such as Switzerland and Morocco. This label guarantees that the cheese manufacturer has followed a set of specifications with strictly defined rules and that it is manufactured in a specific geographical area.
Originally the controlled designation of origin was mainly used for wines and other food products that is how cheese benefited from it.

For the record, here is how the Controlled designation of origin came in:
French wines began to acquire an international reputation and their values were constantly increasing, which gave rise to the desire to create illegal imitations that were displayed on the market. It is with the creation of the Champagne, this new type of wine, that the government was pushed to act to protect these prestigious wines and to repress the fraud. This designation is issued by an agency that works under the auspices of a ministry; very often times it is the Ministry of Agriculture.
In France, it is the competence of the National Institute of Origin designation.
Any fraudulent or abusive use of this name is heavily reprimanded by a fraud prevention service.


In 1992, the European Community decided to unify the national protection systems of the controlled designations, by adopting the protected designation of origin label. Thus the origin designation transmitted by the member states has been transposed to PDO. Only dairy products and food are affected by the PDO reference. In 2016, all products under PDO generated a turnover of nearly 20 billion Euros.
PDO, Protected designation of origin refers to the name of a cheese or any other product the preparation, processing and production of which must take place in a specific geographical area, from the raw material to the final product with a well recognized know-how. For example, grass and wild flowers in the Emmental region eaten by cows have a direct impact on the composition of the milk as well as on the cheese and its aromatic components.

These names are legal tools that were created to protect the names of products that have a strong link with a defined geographical area, against theft and copying by fraudulent producers who are not located in the right territory or who do not meet the quality criteria.
Thus, this designation is a guarantee for the consumer as to the quality of the product. It is also an effective commercial asset.
The image of the country which is the origin of the designation is a real asset that brings added value to the product. That means that the consumer will find much of the country in his product.

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Controlled Designation of Origin vs Protected Designation of Origin

In the end, there is not a great difference between products bearing the CDO label and those bearing the PDO one. The main difference is that PDO label is a European label while CDO is a French one and even Swiss.

Other countries besides France have developed their own label, the United Kingdom has the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and in Italy they have the DOP (Denominazione di origine protetta).

Since January 1, 2012, CDO has disappeared from the packaging of products, exception made for wines.

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