Cornish Sardine now EU-protected product

THE Cornish Sardine is the latest UK product to be recognised under the EU Protected Food Names Scheme for its quality and regional identity, which means even people living in the landlocked West Midlands can be sure of where their fish has come from.

Shropshire fish suppliers, Fish in a Box, have welcomed the move to award Cornish sardines Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status because of the way sardines are caught and the historical link attached to the fishing of sardines in Cornish waters.

Fish in a Box, which operates out of Newport in Shropshire, and delivers fresh fish to homes in Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands, as well as further afield via courier, said the announcement was a boost for consumers as well as fishermen.

Business partners, Fiona Asson and John Perry, said: "We are delighted for the Cornish sardine fishermen and processors. It's great for us and our customers because we are all very interested in provenance.

"You can always guarantee the size, quality and consistency of Cornish sardines - they are excellent produce of a very high standard."

The announcement was made at New Covent Garden Market, as Ministers gathered to promote the best of British regional and specialty foods at a Christmas Market organised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Herefordshire Perry, which also enjoys PGI status, was among regional favourites tasted at the market.

The award means that Cornish Sardines have become the UK's 40th food name protected under the EU Protected Food Name (PFN) scheme, joining the likes of Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Scotch Beef and Lamb.

The scheme ensures food names are legally protected on the basis of their link to a specific geographical area or because they are made to a traditional recipe.

Minister for Food, Farming and Environment, Jim Fitzpatrick, said: "I am delighted that Cornish Sardines have been awarded PGI status.

"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.

"Two thousand and nine has been a good year for recognition of British products. Cornish Sardines are the third UK registration this year and brings the UK's protected food name total to 40."

The application's success is the result of the close co-operation between Defra officials and members of the producer group.

Celebrating the good news, Nick Howell, chairman of the Cornish Sardine Management Association, said: "The fishermen and processors of Cornwall have combined their efforts over the last 10 years in rebuilding this traditional fishery and we would like to thank Defra for guiding us through the complex process of getting EU approval for Cornish Sardines and we can now focus on promoting the sustainability and quality of our brand."