With so many cheeses in the market calling themselves "feta" or "feta-type" cheese, are there any standards for how it is made and what kind of milk is used?
This is a great question, and the simple answer is that feta cannot be made with cow's milk - at least not in the European Union. It must be made of at least 70% sheep milk and up to 30% goat milk, and it must be produced to definite specifications.
In 2005, after 16 years of heated debtate among member countries of the European Union, the EU's highest court awarded exclusivity of the name "feta" to Greece with very specific requirements for how and where it is made.
- made from pure sheep milk or a mixture with up to 30% of goat milk,
- produced in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessalia, Mainland Greece, the Peloponnese peninsula, and the island of Mytilini (Lesvos),
- average composition: moisture 52.9%, fat 26.2%, proteins 16,7%, salt 2.9% and pH 4.4.
There are similar cheeses made with cow's milk; one is even made in Greece and is called "telemes," but cow's milk cheeses or combinations using cow's milk as an ingredient are not the same and the taste is very different.