The Minister, who lives in Newcastle, visited the historic brewery where Newcastle Brown is made to launch a new design featuring the beer's EU protected status for its name and identity.
Newcastle Brown already has an enviable reputation among beer drinkers, and was the first North-Eastern product to be granted Protection of Geographical Indication status by the European Commission.
Nick Brown said:
"I am very pleased that Scottish and Newcastle have decided to change the Newcastle Brown label to include the distinctive EU logo. This logo is not just proof of a products protected name status - it is also a guarantee to consumers that the product is authentic and unique. I was delighted that Newcastle Brown gained this status, which is reserved for products which have a particular geographical identity. Newcastle Brown is well known across the UK as a symbol of the North East, and I hope this new look will give it even greater prestige, both at home and abroad.
"I hope the logo will become the recognised brand for products with a geographical origin, and I would urge any producers of local specialities to consider applying for protected status. There are sound financial reasons for this - research shows that across Europe consumers are becoming increasingly interested in where the food and drink they buy is coming from and are prepared to pay more for those products whose provenance can be proved."
In 1993 EU legislation came into force which provides for a system for the protection of food names on a geographical or traditional recipe basis. This system is similar to the familiar 'appellation controlee' system used for wine. The scheme highlights regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed. Under this system a named food or drink registered at a European level will be given legal protection against imitation throughout the EU.
Producers who register their products for protection benefit from having a raised awareness of their product throughout Europe. This may in turn help them take advantage of the wider markets that are arising from consumers' increasing awareness of the importance of regional and speciality foods. The designations are: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) - open to products which are produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical area, and with features and characteristics which must be due to the geographical area. Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) - open to products which must be produced or processed or prepared within the geographical area and have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area. Certificate of Specific Character (CSC) - open to products which are traditional or have customary names and have a set of features which distinguish them from other similar products. These features must not be due to the geographical area the product is produced in nor entirely based on technical advances in the method of production.
To date 31 UK products have been registered. These include Cornish Clotted Cream, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Stilton and Scotch Beef. All registered products are subject to independent verification carried out to European (EN 45011) standards.