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Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée

The designation Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), roughly translated to 'term of origin', is a certification granted to certain French wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products by a government bureau known as the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine[?] (INAO). Under French law, it is illegal to manufacture and sell a product under one of the AOC-controlled names if it does not comply with the criteria of the AOC.

The controlled term of origin guarantees the following product criteria:

  • The product will be produced consistently in the traditional manner.
  • It will be produced with ingredients from a designated geographical area, and will be made and at least partially aged in this area.
  • The characteristics of the product will be consistent and in line with a clearly defined standards.
  • The production is strictly regulated by a control commission following AOC-defined standards.

The origins of AOC date back to the 15th century, when Roquefort was regulated by a parliamentary decree. The AOC seal was created and mandated by French laws in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. In 1990, the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) was created to manage the administration of the process. Many other countries have based their controlled place name systems on AOC. See:

All AOC products are identified by a seal, which is printed on the label or the rind (in the case of an AOC cheese). To prevent any possible misrepresentation, no part of an AOC name may be used on a label of a product not qualifying for that AOC. However, many producers are located in towns where the AOC is the name of the town, and thus are enjoined from listing anything more than a cryptic postal code.

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