Waterford sampled success this week when it obtained the European Union's Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for its unique "Blaa" bread rolls. The floury favourite (which reportedly dates back to the 1690s Huguenot bakers) has risen through the ranks to join other cullinary delights such as Parma Ham, Feta cheese and Cornish pasties at this level of legal protection. A PGI denotes a link with an area in at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation. Waterford's acquisition of a PGI for Blaa means this specific type of bread can only be called by its famous name if made in the south eastern county.

Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs was introduced to protect the reputation of regional foods, promote rural and agricultural activity, help producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products and eliminate the unfair competition.

It defines geographical indication as the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used to describe an agricultural product or a foodstuff:

  • originating in that region, specific place or country, and
  • which possesses a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to that geographical origin, and
  • the production and/or processing and/or preparation of which take place in the defined geographical area.

Applications are made to the Member State where the geographical area is situated. A national objection procedure is initiated where parties with a legitimate interest may lodge an objection. Once deemed acceptable the Commission (within 12 months) checks that the application is justified and that it meets all the necessary conditions.

If the conditions are met it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ), from which any Member State, third country, natural or legal person has 6 months to object. Proof must be given that either the product specification fails to meet the required conditions, or that the name conflicts with a trade mark or agricultural product or that it has become a generic name. Where no admissible objection is received, the Commission will register the name.

Other Irish delicacies that have attained PGI status include Connemara Hill Lamb, Clare Island Salmon, Imokilly Regato and Timoleague Brown Pudding.