Cornish sardines win EU label protection

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Cornish sardines have become the latest British product to win EU protection as a traditional and regional food speciality.

They are the 40th UK food to be recognised under the protected food name programme, joining Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pies, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

The department also announced that a new code of practice on labelling pork products, to ensure that if it is described as British on the packet it is wholly from Britain, will be drawn up following agreement by food producers and industry. The new code aims to end the anomaly whereby pigs reared abroad and then used in products manufactured in the UK can be sold as British, so that in the future "British" will mean it was born, reared and slaughtered here.

Defra made the announcements at New Covent Garden Market in London, at a Christmas market to promote the best of British regional and speciality foods. The EU's protected food name scheme legally protects the name of foods on the basis of links to specific areas, or the use of traditional recipes, to prevent imitation products undermining their market.

The status was awarded to Cornish sardines because of the way the fish are caught and the historical link to sardine fishing in Cornish waters.

The Food, Farming and Environment minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "The award recognises the tradition and long-established ties Cornwall has with the fishing industry and reinforces the fact that quality British regional food is gaining the wider recognition it deserves."

He said the new code of practice for pork products, which will mean an end to the use of ambiguous terms such as "produced in the UK" was good news for consumers and the supply chain as a whole. "It means that if you buy bacon or sausages from a retailer who's signed up to the code then you'll know exactly where the meat has come from," he said.

"It's also helpful for the supply chain from farm to fork, because there will be consistent definitions which the industry can use."