A court in the canton of St. Gallen sentenced a cheese vendor to three years in prison, half of it behind bars.
The man was judged guilty of fraudulently using Switzerland’s world-famous Emmental cheese brand and other crimes.
In addition to prison, the cheese seller was ordered to pay CHF 1 million in relation to illegal cheese sales – 3,500 tonnes of cheese pretending to be Emmental was sold – and other forms of fraud including breach of trust, unlawful business practices and harming creditors.
The Emmentaler AOP brand is one of 21 protected AOP brands registered in Switzerland. Registered AOP brands may only be used by producers in a designated geographical region who must adhere to strict rules set out by the Federal Office of Agriculture. Regular checks are undertaken by an independent body.
Emmentaler AOP can only be produced in the cantons of Aargau, Bern (excluding the district of Moutier), Glarus, Luzern, Schwyz, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Zug and Zurich, as well as parts of Fribourg.
The court in the district of See-Gaster was more lenient than Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General, which recommended the man be handed an eight year and ten month prison sentence.
The defense’s lawyer argued that the man had been trying to save his business to limit the financial fallout on milk suppliers.
The case will now move to the Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s highest court, where the cheesy affair will receive a further sniff test.