European countries like France, Spain and Italy have long used protected status for their specialist foods and wines. In France, Appellation d’Origine Controlee, (AOC) was first used loosely in the 1400’s for Roquefort cheese. Today it is a wide spread term applied to wines and certain foods and will always appear on the label of the product. The same goes in Spain, where Demoninacion de Origen (DOC) is applied to Spanish wines and foods. Italy have used the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOCG) classications for wines and some foods since 1963. All of these classifications mean the wines and foods which carry these terms on their packaging or label cannot be made elsewhere. The terms are not just symbols of protection for the good of wine and food producers, but symbols of pride in the indigenous handcrafted quality products of the countries. They represent a tangible way of showing the world that ‘this is our produce and we are proud of it’.
In Ireland, EU PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status also exists, but only a few Irish producers of speciality products have applied for status. PGI status is currently held by Clare Island Salmon (1999), Timoleague Brown Pudding (2000), Connemara Hill Lamb (2007) and the Waterford Blaa (2013). The worth of this status means producers are recognised for the quality product they produce, which cannot be replicated elsewhere outside the region. The value of the status also means these products raise the profile of Ireland as a quality food producing nation, and helps producers to boost trade at home and abroad. For example, since gaining PGI status for the Waterford Blaa, a soft white bread roll dating back to Huguenot times, it has appeared on the inflight meals on Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus, and on menus at the Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai. Good Food Ireland’s Dermot Walsh of Walsh’s Bakehouse, traditional makers of the Blaa in Waterford, said in an interview on it’s launch in Dubai in 2014 ‘To see the blaa on the menu of one of the Middle East’s most esteemed hotels is a hugely significant achievement and one that all Waterford Blaa bakers can be very proud of.’ Good Food Ireland also includes traditional Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Blaa makers Barron’s Bakery among it’s ranks.
In a press release issued this morning, Deidre Clune, EU MEP for Ireland South, is now urging the Department of Agriculture to ‘lead a charge here to encourage food producers to apply’ , adding, ‘Ireland has been slower than other countries to apply.’ Clune also wishes to see protection extended to traditional Irish crafts, and today welcomed a European Parliament resolution that calls upon the European Commission to propose legislation to extend EU wide protection of geographical indications to include regionally and locally manufactured goods and handicraft products, such as Cork Crystal, Kenmare Lace, Kilkenny Crystal, Limerick Lace, Newbridge Silverware, Tipperary Crystal and Waterford Crystal.
As champions of Irish food, we here at Good Food Ireland would love to see more of our regional cheesemakers, specialist producers, salami makers applying for PGI status, to get their hand crafted food products recognised and labelled as proud Irish creations of their region. Good Food Ireland is at the forefront of pioneering Irish produce at home and abroad. Our producers form the backbone of a proud Irish food community, and our establishments which serve these products highlight Ireland’s first class culinary offering. PGI status can only help to continue that on a national and international level, as well as boosting business for producers who dedicate themselves to making real Irish regional foods.