Congratulations to Newmarket Sausages which have become the 50th British Food to obtain protection under the European Protected Food Names Scheme.
The European Protected Food Names Scheme allows regional and traditional foods to be protected either on the basis of geography or recipe. The scheme is designed to highlight and promote regional and traditional foods where the authenticity and origin can be established. It is hoped that through this scheme regional food heritage can be protected and maintained for the benefit of us all and our future generations.
Obtaining protection can have a very positive impact on producers both in terms of increased sales and the ability to charge a premium for their product. As can be seen from the Newmarket Sausage example it is also a wonderful profile raising tool and can assist in bringing tourism and other business into the local area.
So the question remains what is required to obtain a protected status and why was Newmarket Sausage successful where other sausages have failed?
The key is to remember that the European Protected Food Names Scheme is governed by European legislation which sets out the criteria an application must meet in order to qualify for protection. If the application does not show that the product meets the relevant criteria the application cannot succeed. It is a case of going through all the legal hoops. In some instances this is simple, in others, particularly where there is fierce opposition, it can be more difficult.
The particular 'hoops' to be met will depend on which of the three types of protected name the application is seeking whether this be a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) or a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). In this instance the Newmarket Sausage Association applied for a PGI and so were required to show that Newmarket Sausages were produced, processed or prepared within a particular geographical area and that they had a reputation, features or certain qualities which were attributable to that geographical area. In other words, amongst a number of other things, they were required to show that Newmarket Sausages had an enduring link with the geographical area stated in the application. This is an area where applications for other sausages have been found wanting, but where the Newmarket Sausage succeeded.
Whilst the British Government and in particular the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are keen to obtain protection for as many British foods as possible they are bound by the rules which set out the requirements for protection. It is therefore vital that any group considering an application under the Protected Food Names Scheme understands the relevant legislation and frames its application accordingly.