Northern Foods in pork-pie palaver

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The Independent Online

Northern Foods has threatened to take the Government to the High Court over a row about Melton Mowbray pork pies.

Northern Foods has threatened to take the Government to the High Court over a row about Melton Mowbray pork pies.

The foods group, which makes 200 million pork pies a year, is fighting a decision by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to back an application to protect the Melton Mowbray name.

A Northern Foods spokes- woman confirmed the group had written to Defra, informing it that it would seek a judicial review in the High Court should the Government department go ahead with the application. Defra has until Wednesday to respond.

The row started last year after the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association approached Defra about registering the name under the European Union's geographical indicator system. The EU rules ensure that traditional food and drinks, such as Parma ham, are only produced in their home region.

Defra backed the application and submitted it to the EU. But the move angered Northern Foods, which would no longer be allowed to use the name should the application be successful. It applied for a judicial review, prompting the Government to suspend the application and agree to investigate.

But Defra has decided to press ahead with the application, prompting Northern Foods' latest legal challenge.

The spokeswoman said: "We think its bad news for the British food industry and the consumer. We're waiting to hear back from Defra. In an ideal world, we would want [Defra] to drop its support."

Should the case go to the High Court, it could either: rule in favour of Northern Foods, sending the application back to Defra for review; refer the matter to a European court; or rule against Northern Foods.

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