Protected British food

Stacey King

What do Cornish pasties, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Scotch beef have in common, apart from all going rather nicely with a pint of Kentish ale that is?

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In fact all three foods (and the ale) have got protected status under European Union law - just like Champagne and Parma ham.

This means that you can't sell your pasty as "Cornish" unless it's actually made in Cornwall and a Melton Mowbray has to be made in a specific area bounded by some of the major roads in the East Midlands region.

Protected designations can take three forms: Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Traditional Specialty Guarantee (TSG).

Fish, beer, cider and pastry products tend to fall into the PGI category – along with some meats and cheeses. Vegetables, cream, some meats and usually PDOs, if they gain protected status.

It is often the location in which the food item is manufactured that is important to PGI status - such as in the case of Cornish pasties. It doesn't matter so much where each ingredient is from, just that it is put together in Cornwall.

On the other hand, PDOs are usually more basic foodstuffs such as vegetables, meat or cheese - and must come from the area mentioned in the product specification that was filed with the EU when status was granted.

Good examples are Jersey royal potatoes, Stilton cheese and Shetland lamb.

Sometimes the methods used in producing the food come into play as well, hence "traditionally farmed Gloucestershire old spots pork" has TSG status (the UK's only TSG product at the moment).

There were a total of 44 British foods with protected status at the time of writing - and another 13 pending. Check out Wikipedia for the full list.

Britain also has one ex-PGI in the form of Newcastle Brown Ale. The brewers were successful in gaining protected status for the beer, but then had to ask for it to be withdrawn after they decided to close the brewery and move production to nearby Gateshead - which was outside the area named in the product designation!

Which food would you like to see protected? Comment below...