The application - lodged by the Lincolnshire Sausage Association (LSA) - stipulates that manufacturers wishing to use the Lincolnshire Sausage name must be based in Lincolnshire and adhere to a strict recipe containing at least 70% meat.
But this would exclude manufacturers accounting for the vast bulk of sales, claimed Samworth Bros subsidiary Walkers Midshire Foods, one of the businesses that will lose the right to use the Lincolnshire Sausage name on its products if the PGI application is successful.
The firm, which makes sausages and cooked meats for the supermarkets at its factory in Cobden Street industrial estate in Leicester, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that it had been making Lincolnshire Sausages for years, and claimed that all of the major multiples sourced their Lincolnshire sausage from outside Lincolnshire.
Md Steve Crawford added: "To me, Lincolnshire Sausages are like Cheddar cheese or Yorkshire Puddings, they are too generic for this kind of application, and the vast majority are not made in Lincolnshire.
"The recipe as defined in the application is also not a quality product - ours contains 80-85% meat for example - and to me they haven't properly demonstrated a link between the product and the area as set out in the PGI application criteria."
The application is currently in the hands of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which must now decide whether or not to give it the green light and forward it to the European Commission. A decision is expected next month.
If DEFRA gives it the thumbs up, other EU Member States will then have six months to lodge objections, with formal protection granted six months after that. There would then be a ‘grace’ period before companies making Lincolnshire Sausages that do not meet the PGI criteria will have to rebadge products.
LSA: "Very optimistic"
LSA chairman Janet Godfrey said she was "very optimistic" that the application would ultimately succeed if it were supported by DEFRA as she did not anticipate opposition from other Member States.
She added: "We are doing this to support local producers and for the tourist market. People do come here to buy the sausages."
She also disputed Crawford's claim that 95% of the sausages were made outside the PGI region, adding: "The TNS data underestimates sales within the county [of Lincolnshire]. We also dispute the TNS definition of Lincolnshire Sausage.
"The fact that Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda source their Lincolnshire Sausages from outside Lincolnshire is why we have registered the application."
Meanwhile, Walkers' objections were"hypocritical" given that parent company Samworth had backed applications for Melton Mowbray pork pies and the Cornish Pasty, she said, a claim firmly rejected by Crawford, who said the above applications were "not comparable" as most Melton Mowbray pork pies for example had always been produced in Melton Mowbray.
He added: "We have raised our concerns with DEFRA and we believe it is taking them seriously."
A DEFRA spokeswoman said: “We will look at all of the evidence provided by those applying for the status, as well as any objections, before making a decision on submitting the application to the Commission for consideration."
EU protected name schemes
There are three EU protected names schemes:
- Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) - where the product must be produced AND processed AND prepared in a specific geographical area.
- Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) - where the product must be produced OR processed OR prepared in the geographical area.
- Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) - open to products, which are traditional or have customary names and have a set of features not due to the geographical area the product is produced in.
Italy and France have considerably more protected name registrations than any other Member State, accounting for 40% of all PDO and PGI registrations. The UK accounts for about 9% of registrations.