The campaign by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association to get Protected Geographical Indication status for its pies suffered a major setback this week when the government withdrew its support.
The move follows the threat of legal action from leading pie maker Northern Foods, which claims the government had “misconstrued the purpose of PGI” and had not followed the correct procedure.
A Defra spokesman said the government has asked Brussels to suspend the application as it had received legal guidance it had not dealt with Northern Foods’ objections properly.
PGI designation would have meant that only pies produced to certain recipes within a narrowly defined region would have the right to use the name Melton Mowbray.
Northern Foods company secretary Julian Wild said the company had adjourned its application for a judicial review following the government’s climbdown. “We will now have the opportunity to make further submissions to Defra.
“The boundary was arbitrary and drawn up to accommodate certain businesses. If PGI is used in this way it will lead to a situation whereby a whole range of recipe-based food products with geographic references will only be produced in certain locations by certain suppliers.”
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association chairman Matthew O’Callaghan said he was confident the application would win through in the end.
“We have to preserve our food heritage or traditions will be lost and the big suppliers will make everything.”