West Country beef and lamb joins ranks of UK's famous foods thanks to protected status

Wiltshire Times: Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc is impressed by the Wiltshire beef on offer from butcher Tony Banfield at Neston Park Farm Shop. West Country beef and lamb now has protected status Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc is impressed by the Wiltshire beef on offer from butcher Tony Banfield at Neston Park Farm Shop. West Country beef and lamb now has protected status

West Country beef and lamb and Anglesey sea salt have joined the ranks of some of the UK's most famous foods such as Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pies by securing protected status.

The foods have been awarded European Union protected food name status, which guarantees their authenticity and origin and prevents imitation products from using their name.

The latest awards bring the total of UK products which are protected to more than 60, including Cornish clotted cream, Whitstable oysters and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.

Protected food products in the UK contribute an estimated £900 million to the European economy, and the government is keen to encourage more applications for protected status.

Farming minister George Eustice said: "Legal protection of the quality, provenance and reputation of British food will help small businesses make a valuable economic contribution both locally and nationally.

"We now want to help many more UK food producers who are thinking about making an application for protected name status to get their quality produce fully recognised."

The "protected geographical indication" (PGI) status awarded to West Country beef and West Country lamb means the meat has to come from stock born, raised and finished in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Dorset or Wiltshire and fed at least a 70 per cent forage-based diet.

Peter Baber, chairman of Meat South West, said: "We are delighted to be awarded PGI status for West Country beef and lamb.

"We look forward to working with farmers and processors in the south west region to market top quality beef and lamb under the West Country PGI banner."

Prof Chris Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University, Belfast, said: "The food supply systems in the UK are very safe. Compared with other parts of the world, we have one of the safest food supply systems in the world.

"I think what the Which? report is indicating very clearly is that, because of the pressures that are on local authorities in relation to budget cuts, they are finding it very difficult to deliver the quality of service that is required."

Prof Elliott told BBC Breakfast that, a year since the horse meat scandal emerged, there had been a "massive effort" both in the UK food industry and the government to put into place "measures that will stop these types of food crime happening again".

He said there were 25,000 different food products sold each day in UK retail sector.

"It is an enormous task making sure that that material is safe and authentic," he said.

"What is happening now both in industry and government is that those types of food materials which are most vulnerable to fraud are getting the highest level of attention.

"Obviously, it started off with red meat but there are many, many other food commodities now that must be checked regularly to make sure that what we are buying as consumers is actually what is says on the label."

The protected food name status will help family business Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt increase its workforce by 25 per cent this year, it predicts.

Alison Lea-Wilson, from Halen Mon, said the company was delighted to secure "protected designation of origin" (PDO), one of several protected food name marks, joining other protected Welsh products such as Welsh lamb and beef and Pembrokeshire early potatoes.

Anglesey Sea Salt comes from salt flakes harvested from the Menai Strait in Anglesey, North Wales, with a mineral content that makes it different in appearance, texture and taste.

Halen Mon exports to 20 countries and partners with brands such as Tesco Finest.

Ms Lea-Wilson said: "Consumers can now be 100 per cent sure that when they buy Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt they are getting a product which has been harvested and packed in Anglesey."

 

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