Scots delicacy fights for EU legal protection

CHAMPAGNE was one of the first, then there were Melton Mowbray pork pies. Soon a Scottish delicacy could be joining the world-renowned and protected brands.

The Scottish Government have launched an action that could see the makers of Stornoway black pudding given security from imitators.

The makers want the geographical origin of their version of the blood sausage protected by the European Union.

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The Scottish Government has now published a consultation document on the issue.

To gain the status producers need to prove their product has a strong connection to the region, including a historical link and a making tradition.

Butchers on Lewis who create the dish, historically known as marag dubh, want "forgeries" on the mainland to be banned from using the Stornoway name.

The sausage, made of pig's blood, onions, suet, oatmeal and spices has been made in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, for centuries.

However, versions of the dish are found all over the globe, including Ireland, France, Germany and Spain.

The bid to have the Stornoway Black Pudding recognised is being led by four butchers on the Isle of Lewis.

Iain Macleod, partner in Charles Macleod Limited, on behalf of the Stornoway Black Pudding Producers Association, said: "The launch of the UK consultation period for the Stornoway Black Pudding PGI application is a very important milestone for the producers.

"Attaining European PGI status is a priority for our iconic product as it protects the consumer from being misled about the provenance and quality of Stornoway Black Pudding, whilst safeguarding our regional food heritage.

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"It will provide customers with the assurance that what they are buying is the genuine article, made in our region to the consistently high levels of quality and using the traditional crofting recipe."

He acknowledged that the process to gain the coveted status was a lengthy one, but he argued that the butchers believed it would bring "vital" economic benefits to Stornoway.

He said: "We also hope that it would encourage growth and investment in the rural economy through promotion to the consumer of the Stornoway Black Pudding as a specialist food item, as well as vitally important area marketing of the Outer Hebrides as a destination of choice to visit."

Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs secretary, said Scotland was home to some of the most popular protected foods in Europe, including Scotch Beef and Scottish Farmed Salmon.

He said: "It is excellent news that the Stornoway Black Pudding Association has grasped the opportunity to pursue protecting their premier product and I would encourage more of our Scottish companies to do the same.

"The four butchers, in many respects direct competitors, have come together for a common purpose."This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when industry works in partnership.

"Consumer interest in local food has never been greater and Scotland has massive potential to take advantage of the PGI scheme. There is no substitute for our iconic Scottish produce."

John Smith, director of WJ Macdonald butchers in Lewis, is one of the four whose pudding would receive protection under the new rules and he welcomed the latest move.

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He said: "It would protect the Stornoway name, because people have been making other ones on the mainland and claiming them as Stornoway - it's forgery.

"People would then know they are getting the real deal and it would protect our livelihoods. It wouldn't be good if we had to pay people off."

Campaigners last year made a similar bid to protect the Lorne sausage, also known as square sausage.

Scotland's butchers wanted only Scottish producers to be able to make it.