Food labelling e-learning course
PDOs and PGIs: restrictions and procedures

PDOs and PGIs: restrictions and procedures

West Country Farmhouse cheddar label

Protected Designation of Origin products (PDOs) must be completely produced in the specified area using raw materials from that area: Swaledale cheese, Anglesey Sea Salt or Cornish Clotted Cream. Protected Geographical Indication products (PGIs) have a characteristic link to the defined area where at least one production step must take place: for example, Armagh Bramley Apples, Melton Mowbray Pork Pie or Rutland Bitter.

As an exception, names for live animals, meat or milk can be treated as PDOs when the raw materials come from a geographical area larger than, or different from, the defined area. This is acceptable if the production area is defined, there are special, verifiable conditions there for the production of the raw materials, and the PDO was recognised before 1 May 2004.

Restrictions on names

Generic terms - where the geographical link has been severed and the name has become a common name for an EU product – cannot become PDOs or PGIs without further qualification. Neither can names which could be confused with trademarks, plant varieties, animal breeds, or names which are already protected (complete or partial homonyms). Conversely, trademarks likely to be confused with protected names will be refused where the PDO or PGI was applied for first.

Specification and registering

Before an application for registration of a PDO or PGI can be made, a specification for the product must be assembled. This must include at least:

  • The name to be protected in the original language only
  • A description of the product
  • The definition of the geographical area and substantiation of the link between this and the quality/qualities of the product
  • Evidence that the product originated in the defined area
  • A description of the method of obtaining the product
  • The name and address of the body verifying compliance
  • Any specific labelling rules

Applications for registration can be made by groups who work with the relevant product, although individuals can apply under particular circumstances.

Applications must be submitted to the relevant authority in the Member State. The content of applications is prescribed and must include, for instance, the product's specification. If, after national consultation, the Member State considers the application meets the criteria of the scheme, it lodges an application dossier with the Commission. Following Commission scrutiny, the application is then presented for EU wide consultation; notice of the success or otherwise of the application is published following time-limited procedures in the Official Journal (OJ) of the EU.