These regulations cover some 3,400 products in total. Using Teviotdale cheese as an example, the EU regulations mean that the product name “Teviotdale” can only be used on a product that meets the premium quality standards associated with Teviotdale cheese.
Products meeting these strict standards are entitled to use the product name and must be labelled with the EU Protected Geographical Indication logo. The logo shows consumers that they are purchasing a genuine PGI that complies with the premium quality standards associated with it.
As such, the producers of Teviotdale cheese have to go through rigorous compliance checks to ensure the quality and characteristics of their product entitles them to use the name “Teviotdale” and the EU PGI logo.
Consequently, a cheese manufacturer or seller cannot call their product “Teviotdale Cheese” or use the PGI logo within the EU unless it meets the appropriate cheese standards. In this case, these standards include that the cheese must be produced in the village of Teviotdale, Scotland.
It is thanks to these strict EU standards for agricultural products and foodstuffs that the quality of premium foods is maintained.
Unfortunately, the standards for control of agricultural products and foodstuffs are not the same all over the world. For example, in the United States it would be possible to call a cheese “Teviotdale-style” cheese or “Californian Teviotdale” as the US allows the use of protected product names, provided they don’t lead to confusion or deception of the consumer.
Brexit brought with it concerns in respect of whether the strict EU protection after the end of the transition period, would be maintained or whether a relaxation of the protection would take place to facilitate the likes of future trade deals between the United Kingdom and the United States.
The good news is that the UK under Defra (the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) decided to maintain strict protection for agricultural products and foodstuffs by setting up its own new geographical indication scheme.
What’s more is that all existing UK and EU products with EU PGI protection have been automatically registered under the new UK scheme.
It’s worth noting, however, that as of the start of this year, new applicants for UK PGIs will need to apply in the UK first and thereafter make a separate application to the EU if they wish to secure protection in the EU.
Like the EU, the UK has created its own logos that are to be used to show the authenticity of products protected under its scheme. As of the beginning of this year, consumers might have already seen the new logos in circulation.
The newly implemented UK scheme is welcome news for the many premium Scottish producers who previously enjoyed protection, and for whom it is important to demonstrate their authenticity.
Noelle Pearson is a Trainee Trade Mark Attorney with Marks & Clerk