The benefits of Protected Food Name status

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Question: What do the following have in common?

Cumberland Sausage, Melton Mowbray Pork Pie, Arbroath Smokies, Cornish Clotted Cream, Jersey Royal Potatoes, Rutland Bitter, Blue Stilton Cheese, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Answer: They all benefit from Protected Food Name status. (The clue was in the title of the article.)

2014 has seen the addition of Anglesey sea salt and West Country beef and lamb to the growing list – an achievement which attracted some coverage in the press. Last year Pembrokeshire potatoes won the status and we understand that the growers of Denbigh plums have applied for recognition as well.

Protected Food Name status is awarded by the European Commission. The relevant EU legislation has been around since 1993. The objective is to highlight regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. The scheme recognises three classes of protection:

  • Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) – this protects the recipe and ingredients in a product, i.e. how the product is made. TSG status is open to products that have traditional or customary names and which have a set of features that distinguish them from other similar products. These unique features must not be attributable to geographical location nor be based on technical advances in production
    Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) – this stipulates that part of the production must occur within a defined geographical area. The product must have a reputation, features or quality attributable to that area
  • Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) – in this case, as well satisfying the above requirements, the product must be wholly made or processed in the area and from ingredients originating from the area. Anglesey Sea Salt, for instance, has PDO status so that consumers will know that it has been harvested in Anglesey

The benefits for producers are essentially twofold. The first is defensive – Protected Name Status affords legal protection against imitation throughout the European Union. The second is in terms of branding – Protected Name Status confers heightened brand awareness throughout the EU. Parma Ham, for example, is very well-known and sought after in this country.

Defra is keen to encourage further applications from producers in the hope that this will encourage exports as well as foster overseas interest in regions of the UK.