EU fears influx of 'British champagne' once Brexit ends food naming rules

The EU is concerned that British companies could violate protections given to the names of thousands of European products – such as parma ham and champagne – while the protected status of foodstuffs such as West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese is retained after Brexit.

The European commission has given “geographical indication” (GI) status to 1,150 products, meaning companies can only use the name of a locality in their marketing if the product is from that area.

When the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer need to abide by the directives and could, for example, rename some English sparking wine as English champagne, or ham as English parma ham.

A document from the European parliament’s agriculture committee, which is advising the chamber’s leaders on the Brexit negotiations, says: “As things currently stand, the UK has 59 such registered names [out of a total of 1,150 at EU level], including e.g. Lakeland Herwick Meat, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese, West Wales Coracle Caught Sewin [sea trout], and [economically important] Scotch Whisky.

Scotch Whisky, which is protected under EU rules.

Scotch Whisky, which is protected under EU rules. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

“The question of what will happen to EU GIs after the withdrawal of the UK is a difficult one.

“If no arrangements to another effect are made, the protection afforded by the above-mentioned legislation would normally cease to apply in the UK, which means that over a thousand European registered names could be exposed to…

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