Quorn’s ‘Cornish-Style Pasties’ have been forced into a swift name change after owner Marlow Foods was rapped for flouting EU law.

‘Cornish Pasty’ was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the EU last July, meaning only pasties prepared in Cornwall, and which contain specified ingredients - including not less than 12.5% diced or minced beef - could use that name.

Marlow was told by North Yorkshire Trading Standards Service that it could no longer describe its pasties as ‘Cornish Style’. It is thought to be the first time a nationwide brand has been brought to book for using a product description that suggested a link to a product that holds a protected food name.

Owned since January 2011 by Exponent Private Equity, Marlow is understood to have agreed to change the name of the product to ‘Quorn Pasty’.

“Marlow Foods has until the end of July to use up the current packaging and by then we will expect them to have renamed the product,” said a spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Currently, Quorn’s Cornish Style Pasties are listed in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons.

Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the UK Protected Food Names Association, welcomed the action.

“Protected food names have been around for some time and we’re finding people are stretching the boundaries of what is permissible, so I’m delighted Trading Standards made a ruling in this case to ensure the integrity of PFN status.”

It would encourage more producers of iconic British foods to register them and to know that the protection they gained would be enforced, he added.
A spokeswoman for Marlow confirmed it was in the process of changing the name of the product before amending packaging, but downplayed the move.

“This is in accordance with PGI status rules and is a step we are taking, just as some other brands and companies are.”
She confirmed Marlow would not consider naming the product ‘Quornish Pasties’ because it was against brand guidelines.

However, it is thought ‘Quornish Pasties’ would also not be permitted by EU legislation. In addition to the word “style”, it also prohibits “any other false or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature or essential qualities of the product”.

Last week, an application for PFN status for the Birmingham Balti was lodged with Defra. And this week, Vale of Evesham asparagus growers began its own application.

History of the Cornish pasty

  • The pasty became commonplace in Cornwall in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Traditionally, Cornish pasties contained potatoes, swede and onion and were eaten by poorer families. Meat was added later
  • By the end of the 18th century, the pasty became the staple diet of working men across Cornwal and was produced on a large scale throughout the county by the early 20th century
  • They were awarded PGI status in 2011
  • 13,000 people directly or indirectly “benefit” from the production of Cornish pasties, according to estimates