Food labelling e-learning course
PDOs and PGIs: labelling and protection

PDOs and PGIs: labelling and protection

Cornish pasty label with associated PGI logo

PDO and PGI names may be used by any business marketing a product which conforms to the corresponding specification and which has undergone the required verification of compliance inspection to demonstrate this. From 4 January 2016 products registered under the EU PFN scheme must bear the relevant Union logo. This must be presented in the same field of vision as the registered name of the product. Member States must take steps to prevent the unlawful use of PDO or PGI names.

Labelling

Until 3 January 2016, registered names must be accompanied either by the relevant Union symbol or by the words 'protected designation of origin' or 'protected geographical indication'. Thereafter, the indications 'protected designation of origin' or 'protected geographical indication' or the abbreviations PDO or PGI may also appear on the labelling in addition to the relevant Union symbol. The labelling may also depict the relevant geographical area and refer to the region or Member State where the area is located.

The Union symbols can be given in colour, using prescribed reference colours, or in black and white, but from 1 January 2016 black and white can be used only when black and white are the only ink colours on the package. If the background colour of the packaging is dark, the symbols may be used in negative format, or if the contrast with background colours is poor, a delimiting outer circle may be used around the symbol. The minimum size of the symbols is 15mm in diameter but this may be reduced to 10mm in the case of small packages or products ('small' is not defined). There are further specific rules on font and the wording within the symbol in each EU language.

Where a PDO, PGI or TSG product is being used as an ingredient, the designation or logo may be used, providing certain conditions are met. These relate to, for example, the amount of protected name product used, the absence of comparable ingredients, and clarity - when positioning the logo on the label - that the whole food is not itself a PDO or PGI.

Protection

Registered names must be protected against usage with or exploitation by products not covered by the registration. Imitation or evocation by using translations of protected names, or words such as 'style' or 'type' are not permitted.

Exceptionally, it may be successfully argued that a new protected name jeopardises an entirely or partly identical name. This existing name may have been used on a product which has been marketed for at least five years before the registration application. Where this is the case, a transitional period of up to five years allows the existing product to continue to be marketed without complying with the conditions of the registration. This happened to three businesses when 'Melton Mowbray Pork Pie' was registered and seven businesses when 'Cornish pasty' was registered; they were granted transition periods of five years and three years respectively.