The landlord of a pub in the village of Stilton, Cambridgeshire, continues to fight an EU ruling which means that the cheese he makes cannot be sold under the name 'Stilton'. This is despite the fact that the cheese was first made and named in his pub, the Bell Inn, back in the 18th century.
The EU law concerns a Protection of Designated Origin (PDO) order, which was granted in 1996 for Stilton cheese. The ruling states that only blue and white cheeses made in the appropriate way in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire can be called 'Stilton' cheese. This is despite the fact that the village where Stilton was first made is in fact in Cambridgeshire.
The Stilton Cheese Makers Association has been against the ruling for 15 years. Now the landlord of the Bell Inn, Liam McGivern, is to challenge the ruling in court.
"Anyone can make the cheese, but DEFRA won't let us call it Stilton" said Mr McGivern.
At the moment the cheese he makes at his pub is called 'Bell Blue'. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have suggested he call his cheese 'blue-veined cheese made in Stilton'.
"People come here and ask for the cheese, and I have to explain that legally we cannot make it. It is embarrassing," added Mr McGivern.
The EU law was first brought in 1992 and is designed to protect the geographical indications of foods and produce. The origin of a product is only one of a number of factors which must be met in order to meet the required standards. Examples of other UK products subject to a PDO include Dorset Blue Cheese, West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese and Cornish Clotted Cream.
Applications for a PDO are made first to DEFRA for their consideration; if they believe the application has merit then it is forwarded to the European Commission for final approval. Third parties can object to the application if they feel that the designation would harm their business.