As well as assuring a cheese’s geographic provenance, the Appellation d’Origine Protégée or AOP must guarantee unimpeachable quality. From the milk producer to the affineur, the Fourme d’Ambert AOP’s Organisme de Défense et de Gestion (Safeguarding and Governance Association) must guarantee the Fourme d’Ambert AOP’s quality and that all specifications are met.

The AOP or Appellation d’Origine Protégée is one of 4 origin and quality labels (AOC, IGP, STG, Organic) recognised in France and Europe. These three acclaimed letters guarantee that a product originates in a certain region, in a country, and that its quality is primarily defined by the characteristics of its environment as a result of natural or human factors.


Safeguarding a product, a region and a name

The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlé was precisely determined by the law of 2 July, 1990 : “An appellation d’origine constitutes the denomination of a country, a region, a location that serves to define a native product whose quality or characteristics are determined by the geographic environment, comprising natural and human factors”.

Each AOC is regulated by a decree. La Fourme d’Ambert was recognised as AOC by the decree of 9 May, 1972, and is currently regulated by the decree of 22 February, 2002. The latter decree determines the following for each AOC cheese :

  • A region, a geographic area: the Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (AOC) guarantees the provenance of the milk, and the place the cheese is manufactured and matured within a precise production zone (link to the geographic area). This production zone is determined by geographic criteria (altitude), physical criteria (soil) and historic criteria.
  • The cheese’s tradition, quality and character: AOC cheeses must benefit from a noteworthy history. A history that shaped the product to give it particular characteristics with respect to its form, texture and taste.
  • A craft, production conditions: the totality of elements that give the product its character, from production to processing.
  • Quality control: assured by independent professionals and organisations to guarantee that production conditions are met as set out by AOC specifications.

The AOC designation therefore identifies a product whose authenticity and character stem from its geographic origin. This denomination guarantees a close link between the product and the region, where a region is understood as being the balance between a geographical area and its geological, agronomic, climatic, etc. conditions – as well as the human skills that draw the best out of area.

The Appellation aims to protect a reputation that has been built over a long period of time. In order to increase its protective value, the European AOC (created in 1992) will gradually replace the French AOC. The AOC/AOP now have a new logo shared by all European Appellations d’Origine. It must appear on the cheese’s packaging or label.