Senator says EU trade initiatives would limit labels on brats, cheese, beer

Making the best of a wurst situation
Senator says EU trade initiatives would limit labels on brats, cheese, beer
Metcalfe's meat counter

Dave Griffith thought we were joking.

“I swore that I’m getting set up for a prank because I can’t believe this is actually, that they’re serious. Don’t they have anything else to do?” Griffith said.

Griffith has spent the last 30 years or so behind a butcher’s counter at Metcalfe’s. Over that time, he has mastered the art of the bratwurst and makes about 37 different kinds for the market. He has visited Germany a handful of times, borrowing recipes from the people who know brats best.

What Griffith can’t understand is why anyone would want to change the name of what he serves and what his customers love to grill.

“It’s tradition. Go to a Brewers game, same thing. Go to a Cubs game, same thing,” Griffith said. “It is tradition, I don’t know how we could combat that.”

According to a release from Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office, a trade initiative of the European Union would change the names for certain meats, cheeses and beers people living in Wisconsin consider staples.

“The current trade negotiations with the European Union threaten not only the names of common state products, but also key drivers of our Wisconsin economy,” Baldwin said in the release.

Baldwin said she signed a couple of letters with dozens of her fellow congressmen, urging federal departments to fight against the EU and its efforts.

Baldwin said meat products like bratwurst, bologna and kielbasa would have to be renamed. In addition, names like asiago, feta, parmesan and muenster would have to be changed. Beers called Octoberfest, Kolsch and Bavarian could need new labels as well.

Elaine Hawkins works in the cheese department at Brennan’s. She said her customers could adapt to new names.

“They might get confused about it for a while, but Americans just roll,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said this won’t stop Wisconsinites from enjoying one of their favorite foods.

“We got the cows. What else are we going to do other than make cheese?” Hawkins said.