European Commission proposes to clarify regional food labelling

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union European commission

The European Commission (EC) has launched a proposal to merge and clarify the existing European rules on protecting national and regional foodstuff names. 

It wants to join the rules on Protected Geographical Indications/Protected Designations of Origin (PGI/PDO) with the rules on Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG).

These rules ensure that agricultural foods with PGI/PDO status can only be made from ingredients from a designated region and/or be manufactured and packaged in that region. TSG protects food made in traditional ways or to traditional recipes.

This comes as the Scottish government has launched a consultation to win PGI status for Stornoway black pudding and as the Jersey Milk Marketing Board has lost its claim for PDO status for Jersey butter. Meanwhile, a 10-year strategy plan called 'Food for Wales, food from Wales' is encouraging producers to apply for a protected food name status. Only Welsh beef and lamb have been granted such status, but potential products include Welsh cider, some shellfish and cheeses.

According to Irene Bocchetta, EU protected food names manager at consultancy ADAS, the EC proposal should make no difference to the way PGI/PDO and TSG rules affect UK food manufacturers. "The feeling is that the aim is to make the process more streamlined for the Commission," she said. "But for food producers wanting to apply for designation or protection, it will remain exactly the same."

In a recent judgement on the application for PDO status for Jersey butter, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it did not satisfy European Council rules. There was not enough evidence to show that the environment on Jersey (grass, sea, air) differentiated the milk from Jersey cows in Jersey from that of Jersey cows in other areas of the UK.

Ian Macleod, on behalf of the Stornoway Black Pudding Producers Association, said that PGI status was a priority for "our iconic product" since it protected the consumer from being misled about the provenance and quality of Stornoway black pudding while safeguarding Stornoway's regional food heritage.

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