New protected food names scheme to be developed

The Environment Secretary Liz Truss says she is keen to develop a British version of the protected food names scheme for when the UK leaves the EU. 

Answering a question in the House of Commons, Truss said the issue of protecting British foods, post-Brexit, was “extremely important”.

“It’s one of the issues we’re working on at the moment, but I’d like to see a British protected food name status that we develop in the future,” she said.

The current scheme, which includes protected geographical indication (PGI) and protected designation of origin (PDO) labels, is governed by the EU and would not apply in the UK following Brexit. According to Truss, 74 products in the UK currently have protected food name status.

However, British PDO or PGI products could still be protected in the EU when we leave. Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the UK Protected Food Names Association and chair of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, told Meat Trades Journal that foods from countries outside the EU already have protected status, naming Colombian coffee as an example. But in order to have protection, the country needs to create its own reciprocal arrangement.

O’Callaghan admitted that there was a lot of concern before Truss spoke at the House of Commons, but pressure has eased off since the Environment Secretary’s announcement.

“The main thing we would all worry about would be the loss of protection within the UK,” said O’Callaghan. “If we didn’t have a scheme then anybody could copy a Melton Mowbury pork pie and pass it off.”

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) said it remained confident that Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI would continue to benefit from protected status.

“There are numerous examples of non-EU member countries with products which benefit from PGI status,” said Uel Morton, chief executive of QMS.

“We see no reason why Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, which were among the first meats in Europe to be awarded PGI status, should not continue to benefit from PGI status as long as the necessary production criteria are in place.

“As an industry in Scotland we have worked hard to build strong brands and to produce top-quality products which have earned an iconic global reputation. We are determined to ensure these brands, with their long-established, robust foundations, continue to be well-placed to adapt and grow in the new political landscape as it unfolds.”

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales said it would “welcome any moves towards the introduction of new legislation which would ensure the continued recognition and value of Protected Food Names”.

“HCC considers the status of PGI to be of enormous economic importance to the Welsh red meat industry, as it identifies the origin and unique qualities of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef. Protected Food Names are also an integral part of the Welsh Government’s food and drink strategy. PGI Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef are widely recognised across the EU and further afield and have been instrumental in developing existing markets as well as accessing new export markets.”

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