A French system initiated in 1935 to safeguard the highest quality producers of various food products, such as cheese, meat and wine, providing a designation that could be used if the producer achieved specific standards and met certain criteria in order to be assigned this designation, also known as AOC.
For cheese producers, four categories were created for the production of the product. If the cheese was made with raw milk from the "home farm" dairy, mountain chalet or hut dairy, and it did not include milk from other sources or farms, the cheese was labeled as a Fermier cheese. The next category is the Artisanal cheese that is produced from milk that may be from either the home farm or farms within the region, but produced into cheese by the home farm dairy. Cooperative cheese is the third category of AOC production designation, which includes all cheese made from only one dairy using the milk of the cooperative members. This designation is also known as the Fruitières. The fourth category is the Industrial (Industriel) designation which includes cheeses made from milk that is purchased from a variety of areas and produced in a commercial environment with larger production facilities.
For wine producers, the designation criteria focuses on such aspects as land, grape varietal, vitacultural practices, amount of yields, alcohol content, winemaking practices, and official tastings. The AOC designation is used to eliminate winemakers and vineyards producing low quality products from using the names of the higher quality vineyards on their labels.
The designation of AOC is the highest classification given to a food product. The other classifications are (from top to bottom): vin délimité de qualité supérierure, vin de pays, and vin de table.
AOC, AC, Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée