From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Feta (Greek: φέτα) is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece and the Levant with ewe's and goat's milk. Since 2005, feta has been a protected designation of origin in the European Union, and defined as having at least 70% sheep's milk, with the remainder being goat’s milk.
Feta cheese is first recorded in the Byzantine Empire (which expanded over the East Mediterranean), under the name πρόσφατος (prósphatos, "recent", i.e. fresh), and was associated specifically with Crete. An Italian visitor to Candia in 1494 describes its storage in brine clearly.
The Greek word "feta" comes from the Italian word fetta ("slice") and that from Latin offa "bite, morsel". It was introduced in Greek in the 17th century, likely referring to the method of cutting the cheese in thin slices to serve on a plate.
Traditionally, feta has been made by peasants in the lower Balkan peninsula from sheep's milk, although goat's milk has been used in more recent times. It is also used for banitsa.
After a long legal battle with Denmark, which produced a cheese under the same name using artificially blanched cow's milk, the term "feta" is since July 2002 a protected designation of origin (PDO), which limits the term within the European Union to feta made exclusively of sheep's/goat's milk in Greece.  According to the Commission, the biodiversity of the land coupled with the special breeds of sheep and goats used for milk is what gives feta cheese a specific aroma and flavor.
When needed to describe an imitation to feta, names such as "salad cheese" and "Greek-style cheese" are used. The European Commission gave other nations five years to find a new name for their "feta" cheese, or to stop production. Because of the decision by the European Union, Denmark changed the name of their product to apetina.