Food Law News - UK - 1999

23 June 1999: LABELLING - Safeguarding Britain's Food Heritage

MAFF Press Release (209/99), 23 June 1999

Safeguarding Britain's Food Heritage

A new campaign to raise the profile of our regional food heritage was launched today by Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown. The campaign will promote some of Britain's best traditional foods and will see the launch of a new logo to enable consumers to identify the food clearly and easily.

Whitstable Oysters, Cornish clotted cream and Blue Stilton cheese are just a few of the products that are currently protected by European legislation. The European 'Protected Food Names Scheme' provides unique protection for food and drink that has been produced in a particular geographical area or which has, by tradition, a specific characteristc. The campaign aims at increasing producer and consumer awareness of the scheme and promoting the products that have already been registered.

Speaking at the press conference, Nick Brown underlined the importance of the scheme:
"Every corner of the UK has developed its own specialities. The diversity of our soils and climate with the interaction of local cultural and social traditions means that there is as strong a case for regionality in our foods as anywhere in Europe. Some 30 products from all parts of the UK are already registered and the campaign seeks to identify and protect others."

A new information pack, 'Safeguarding Britain's Food Heritage' was launched as part of the campaign. This includes product profiles and case studies of protected products and details of the application process.

There will be a major display of registered food products in the MAFF Pavilion at the Royal Show. In the Autumn MAFF will also be holding a series of regional seminars to which producers will be invited and given first hand details of the arrangements and application procedures.

Three types of registraion are available under EU rules. All are entitled to use a Community logo and all receive the same degree of protection. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is 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 Indications (PGI) is open to products which must be produced or processed or prepared within a geographical area and have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area. Certificates of Specific Character (CSC) is 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 that the product is produced in nor entirely based on technical advances in the method of production.

The EU schemes cover most foods intended for human consumption including meat, dairy and fish products, fruits and vegetables, beer, beverages made from plant extracts, bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits and confectionery. All designations require a precise product specification. Once names are registered they are protected by the enforcement agencies in the Member States (in the UK, Trading Standards and Environmental Health officer). All registered products are subject to inspection by an independent body which must comply with European Standard EN45011.

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