NICOSIA - A consumer fraud investigation has been launched into reports of restaurants selling a cheap ‘halloumi-style’ cheese which they pass off as the authentic Cypriot cheese.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Head of the Health Services Christos Christou confirmed that the investigation into reports of counterfeit halloumi being sold on the market is at the early stages.
“Inspections are being conducted to determine whether illegal practices are taking place in the food market. Our aim is to protect consumers and if an offence has been committed to bring the guilty before justice.”
Christou added that the probe is to examine claims of fake halloumi being sold at mobile food units, restaurants and hotels around the island.
Investigators have so far detected a halloumi-style cheese on the market made entirely of cow’s milk which is believed to be the product being passed off as halloumi. The wholesale price for 1 kg of the halloumi-style cheese is €4 while authentic halloumi costs €10 per kg.
Criminal proceedings will only be launched against vendors who attempt to pass off the cheaper cheese as traditional halloumi.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture Nikos Kouyialis is scheduled to meet cheese manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss registering halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product with EU.
The current version of the prototype which was approved by parliament last year helps standardise halloumi production and ensure that it is made as close to the 1985 standard as seasonal milk production allows.
It states that for the period of December to June halloumi must contain 35% sheep and goat milk while for the July to November period it would contain 23%. The remaining percentage of the cheese is cow’s milk.