British, and proud of it!

By Claire Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British food

British, and proud of it!
Since Jacques Chirac claimed British food was so bad that it could thwart our Olympic bid, the protest in defence of our native fare has never been...

Since Jacques Chirac claimed British food was so bad that it could thwart our Olympic bid, the protest in defence of our native fare has never been so fierce. Outraged articles appeared in the newspapers, citing London as one of the world's great food capitals and claiming the British Isles was home to countless producers of top-quality food.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has gone one step further. It has launched a campaign to encourage more regionally and locally produced foods to apply for protection under European Union rules. In the same way as France and Italy use Appellation Origine Controlée (AOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata to protect the quality and provenance of certain foods, so the Brits should follow suit, says the CLA. Its key aim is to benefit regional producers in the belief that encouraging them to apply for protected status will instill pride and raise awareness of the traditions behind their products.

With a few notable exceptions, however, the Brits have not made much of an effort to take an advantage of this opportunity to date, with a paltry number of products having achieved Protected Geographical Indication or Protected Designation of Origin status compared to our continental counterparts.

There are 42 varieties of French cheese safeguarded by the AOC label while just 11 UK cheeses are registered for protected status.

There are a couple of reasons for the UK's poor show, says the CLA: "The government is reluctant to take up the cudgels and promote the scheme because some opponents believe it is anti-competitive. But we have been disconnected from our food for so long that we should take advantage of the movement towards locally produced food and encourage regional groups to work together to promote the scheme and benefit small producers."

The CLA campaign is an unrivalled opportunity to boost respect for British food and ensure manufacturers produce the highest-quality products, empowering consumers to buy the very best. For that, it should be applauded.

Claire Allen is food writer at Good Housekeeping magazine

http://www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk

Related topics: NPD

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