Welsh lamb has joined Cornish clotted cream, West Country farmhousecheddar cheese and stilton cheese on the list of 34 UK productsrecognised by the EU for their quality and regional identity.
It has been awarded the designation of Protected GeographicalIndication under the Protected Food Name Scheme, a status whichensures that only lamb which has been born and reared in Wales can bemarketed as 'Welsh Lamb' within the EU.
"There is growing consumer enthusiasm for products with a clearregional identity," said Lord Whitty, minister for farming, food and sustainable energy. "Registration under the EU Protected Food NameScheme gives consumers assurances about origin, quality andproduction methods, and protects producers against imitations.
"This registration is excellent news for producers of Welsh Lamb who nowhave deserved recognition for a high quality product. The Policy Commission on the Future of Food and Farming recommendedthat more be done to encourage take up of the scheme, a recommendation that has the support of the government."
Exports of Welsh Lamb to other EU Member States are worth nearly €50million. France is the biggest customer followed by Germany, Italyand Belgium.
The EU legislation came into force in 1993 to provide a systemfor the protection of food names on a geographical or traditionalrecipe basis. This system is similar to the familiar 'appellationcontrollée' system used for wine.
The scheme highlights regional andtraditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed.Under this system a named food or drink registered at a Europeanlevel will be given legal protection against imitation throughout theEU.
Producers who register their products for protection benefit fromhaving a raised awareness of their product throughout Europe. Thiscan in turn help them take advantage of the growing market forregional and speciality foods.
The EU schemes cover most foods intended for human consumptionincluding meat, dairy and fish products, fruits and vegetables, beer,beverages made from plant extracts, bread, pastries, cakes, biscuitsand confectionery. Wines and spirits are covered by separate EUlegislation.
Details are also available on the Defra website.