The characteristics are unique and as such, the European foods with specific characteristics are only approved for production by producers who adhere fully to the traditional methods of production within a given demographic area. Essentially, the notion of PDO delineates that certain food names are protected based on geographic origin or the recipe utilized. Inherent in this notion are clear guidelines for naming the food products.1
First and foremost, PDO was instituted in 1993 as a direct result of legislation of the European Union. Under this legislation, there were clear and concise guidelines for the systematic naming of foods based on a protocol as defined by the European Union. Utilizing this systematic naming protocol, EU certifies regional and traditional foods whereby these foods are guaranteed to be authentic and to have originated from the alleged region. Under this system, foods or beverages registered through the EU are given legal protection against imitation along with the right to litigate to protect those rights2
In order for a product to be registered and the producers offered the rights that accompany registration, there must be a formal application made to the Department of environment, food and rural affairs (Defra). The application must be accompanied by supporting documentation which indicates that the food product is produced, processed and prepared within a geographic area and by virtue of this, the product has inherent characteristics that derive from the geographic area. The application is then examined by the staff of Defra and any pertinent questions may be raised and correspondence incited between the applicant and the Defra officials. If the application proves to have some merit after the Defra investigation, it is then passed on to the European Commission for further investigation. When the application reaches the European Commission, the Commission is afforded up to six months to determine the validity of the claim. In so doing, the Commission is free to seek the assistance of the Scientific Committee which is established solely for this purpose. In offering assistance, the Scientific Committee can conduct tests and offer expert opinion with regards to the geographic origin of the product. If after consulting with the Scientific Committee, the Commission is satisfied that the product warrants PDO registration, a summary sheet of the product is published in the Official Journal of the European Community. At this point, the registration is open for objections for the next six months. If no objections are made, then the product is officially registered with the European Union and offered the status of PDO.3
This status affords the producers the following benefits:
Legal protection throughout the European Union. This protection prevents the imitation of a PDO product and in cases where there is imitation, it offers litigious assistance.
Increased awareness of the existence of the product and the potential to promote it both locally and throughout the European Union.
Increased funding potential through the lure of public funds.
Strategic product positioning at the high-end of the market.
A larger customer base.4
Currently, there are twelve products which have attained the PDO designation. These products are Buxton Blue cheese, White stilton cheese - Blue stilton cheese and Dovedale cheese all of which are associated with the