(CNN) Belgium, taking exception to its producer’s slogan of “The Champagne of Beers,” destroyed American beer exports.
Belgian customs earlier this week crushed 2,352 cans of Miller High Life beer, claiming they were improperly labeled as champagne.
The move came after the trade association for the Champagne industry complained that the term should only be used on bottles of sparkling wine made using France’s Champagne traditional method.
By convention, true Champagne — French sparkling wine — can only be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
The Comité Champagne, the collective trade association for the Champagne industry, demanded that the American beers be destroyed, arguing that the label “The Champagne of Beers” infringed on the protected designation “Champagne”.
Miller High Life was started in 1903 by a Milwaukee-based company. According to its website, it began using the slogan “The Champagne of Bottled Beer” three years later, shortening it to “The Champagne of Beers” in 1969.
The beers were headed for Germany before being intercepted at the port of Antwerp in February.
On April 17, the cans were “destroyed with the utmost respect for environmental concerns, ensuring that the entire batch, contents and container are recycled in an environmentally-responsible way,” Commit Champagne said.
“Every year we carry out thousands of checks in names of controlled origin,” said Christian Vanderveeren, general administrator of the Belgian Customs and Excise General Administration.
“If a forgery is proven, as is the case here, we consult with each other about the decision to destroy these items and the manner in which they are destroyed.”
Charles Goemere, Executive Director of the Comité Champagne, said the move was the result of successful cooperation between the Belgian customs authorities and the services of the Champagne Committee.
“It confirms the importance the EU attaches to appellations and rewards Champagne residents for their commitment to protecting their designation,” he said.