Conservative MEP brings the fight to protect the Cumberland Sausage to the heart of Europe

Updated food labelling will cut the hassle in registering local specialities

The European Parliament is set to make it easier to register and protect the Cumberland Sausage and other local speciality foods when it passes proposals currently before it that would update EU rules on food labelling, Sir Robert Atkins, Conservative MEP for the North West of England, said today.

The United Kingdom already has EU protection for 36 products including Newcastle Brown Ale, Cornish Clotted Cream and Gloucestershire Cider. The so-called 'Protected Designation of Origin' (PDO) or 'Protected Geographical Indication' (PGI) measures can be enacted when a product finds itself in competition with goods that pass themselves off as the genuine article and take the same name. Statistics show that for seven EU countries including the UK, the added value achieved by product registration is around £3 billion annually.

But current procedures for registering PDOs and PGIs are outdated and so complex that producers may be put off applying for protection. Under current procedures, applications for protection must meet strict criteria, must be sent to DEFRA for an initial study and then transmitted to the European Commission where a detailed study is carried out. This process is thought to largely duplicate the checks already carried out at national level. The proposal must then undergo a consultation procedure before it is formally approved.

Under proposals originally put forward by the European Commission, the new system will use a 'single document' for applications containing all the necessary information for registration and inspection. The roles of the Commission and national governments will be better defined so that the national government checks the application with just the final check being carried out at EU level. The EU is also planning to make it compulsory that specialist regional foods carry a logo on their labelling.

Sir Robert said:

"It currently takes far too long to get specialist products registered and protected.

"The European Commission has realised that robust labelling is good for agriculture and producers and I want to see this new procedure implemented without delay.

"As a North West MEP, I can think of many local producers who could make use of the user-friendly system we plan to introduce. Conservative MEPs have often supported local producers who tried to protect their specialist produce and become tangled in a bureaucratic web.

"With this new system, I would hope to be able to get the Cumberland Sausage the protection it deserves."

Top ↑