Introduction to Protected Food Name Scheme
The EU Protected Food Name ( PFN) scheme provides a system for the protection of food names on a geographical or traditional recipe basis. This system is similar to the familiar 'appellation controlee' system used for wine. There are three schemes which highlight regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed through an independent inspection system.
- Protected Geographical Indication ( PGI) - must be produced, processed or prepared in the geographical area that an applicant wants to associate with the product.
- Protected Designation of Origin ( PDO) - must be produced, processed and prepared in one area and have distinct characteristics from this area. PDO differs from PGI in that all 3 production stages must take place in the area that an applicant wants to associate with the product.
- Traditional Speciality Guaranteed ( TSG) - must have a traditional name and characteristics that distinguish it from other similar products. These characteristics can't be due to the area the product is made in or based purely on technical advances used in production. Once protected, a TSG product can be produced in any country within the EU.
It can take up to 4 years to get the name of a food or drink product legally protected by the EU.
Most foods such as meat, dairy, fish products, fruits, vegetables, beer, beverages made from plant extracts, bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits, confectionery and pasta can apply for PFN status. Examples of other products which can also be registered under particular designations include:
- PGI / PDO - natural gums and resins, hay, essential oils, mustard paste, cork, cochineal, flowers and ornamental plants, wool, wicker and scutched flax; and
- TSG - pre-cooked meals, prepared condiment sauces, soups and broths, ice-cream and sorbets, chocolate (and other food preparations containing cocoa).
Who can apply
Applications for each of the three designations can be put forward by groups of producers. Such groups may include other interested parties (for example butchers in the case of applications for meat).
Individuals can also put forward applications for either of the two geographical designations ( i.e. PGI and PDO) if:
- The defined geographical area has characteristics which differ from neighbouring areas; or
- The product has characteristics which are different from those produced in neighbouring areas.
It is important to note that producers who are not part of the original applicant group, but who can show to the satisfaction of the nominated inspection body that their product conforms fully with the registered specification, may use the registered name.
As well as providing a way of helping to preserve our national and regional food heritage there are also good economic reasons to register products under the scheme, including:
- Legal protection against imitation throughout the EU;
- Increased awareness of the product both locally and throughout the EU;
- Opportunities to take advantage of consumers' increased interest in regional foods by positioning the product firmly at the quality end of the market;
- The opportunity to get a premium on the product. The results of European wide research has shown that Geographical Indication ( GI) products are sold (on average) 2.23 times as high as comparable non- GI products.
- Greater potential ability, under EU state aids rules, to attract public funding for promotional initiatives and activities.