WEST Country beef and lamb have been awarded protected status by the European Commission.
Regional meat has been given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status while another specialist regional product, Anglesey Sea Salt, has been given Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.
The EU designations give the products similar protected status to 60 other UK foods, including Cornish pasties, Cornish clotted cream, Melton Mowbray pies and Stilton cheese.
The PGI for West Country meat covers animals born, raised and slaughtered in the six counties of the south west, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire; the livestock must be fed on a 70 per cent grass and forage-based diet.
West Country farmers believe that the region’s grass is what makes their meat special. The protected name scheme helps consumers to have confidence in what they are buying (increasingly important since the horsemeat scandal).
Farming minister George Eustice said the government wants to help many more UK food producers apply for protected name status: “Legal protection of the quality, provenance and reputation of British food will help small businesses make a valuable economic contribution both locally and nationally.”
Peter Baber, chairman of Meat South West, which made the application for protected status, said: “We look forward to working with farmers and processors in the south-west region to market top-quality beef and lamb under the West Country PGI banner.”