The latest foodstuff in Britain to seek EU protected status is Devon cream teas, but the question is do traditional UK dishes need help looking after. Unpretentious, simple and honest such is British cuisine’s reputation. Melton Mowbray pies, Cumberland sausages and Cornish pasties, all may be moreish but none conjure up thoughts of culinary sophistication or dining in a Michelin starred restaurant.
But regardless, all have received the gastronomic distinction like Parma ham, Kalamata olives and Champagne. They are among a list of British staples that is growing in size that has received geographical protected status by the EU that offers, against imitations, a legal guarantee. Those who agree say it has raised the status of UK cuisine and generated business for many in Britain.
The critics however say the scheme is bureaucratic and illogical, sets regions against one another, stifles innovation and encourages cartel like behavior. Protected designation of origin (PDO) status was attempted by a coalition of producers for cream tea at the 116th annual Devon Show by unveiling a eight foot long scone with an entire marquee devoted to just the bid.
However the move provoked grumblings from Cornwall of discontent which says their similar but distinct tea could be eclipsed. Also similar battles are forming between two counties as pasty producers from Devon were upset when a variety from Cornish was given protection last February.
To win recognition first the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs needs to be persuaded to support your bid and that can be a long process. But what is important in the long run is there is no doubt that big financial benefits come with protected status. The scheme, launched in 1992, was based on the appellation d’origine controlee used for wine labeling by the French.
Products must be made in their entirety within a designated area in order to receive PDO status. The other is the PGI or protected geographical indication which means either they are produced, processed or prepared within a certain location. When Welsh lamb received PGI status income increased by over 45% for the producers over a three year period.