Brexit risk to protections for Scottish food brands dismissed as 'scare stories'

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The Scottish Secretary has dismissed as "scare stories" reports that protections for regional food brands such as Shetland lamb and Scotch whisky will be weakened after Brexit.

David Mundell added there would be "no change" in protections or the allowing of imitation products.

He was answering a question from Liberal Democrat former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael.

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Mr Carmichael, speaking at Scotland questions, asked: "What progress has been made in ensuring that Scotland's food producers will still have the protection that they need for important geographic brands such as Orkney beef or Shetland lamb after we've left the European Union?"

Mr Mundell replied: "I can assure him that despite scare stories to the contrary, which have appeared in some parts of the media, there will be no change to the protection of these brands or the allowing in of false brands purporting to be them."

Under EU law, products including Melton Mowbray pork pies, Parmesan cheese, and Champagne have protected geographical status and cannot be made anywhere else.

However, when the UK leaves the European Union it will have to decide whether to maintain such protections or, as US lobbyists are urging, drop them.

Shawna Morris, of the US Dairy Export Council – which has been lobbying the US government on UK trade deals post-Brexit – said “preposterous” rules which allowed Italy to “monopolise” Parmesan, for example, should be reconsidered post-Brexit.

“We think the ability to take a fresh look at UK regulation through the Brexit process provides the UK with a great opportunity for taking a much more reasonable approach to what’s been a very controversial issue over the years,” she said this week.

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