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Protected status application for ‘Jersey Butter’ rejected

By Guy Montague-Jones , 17-Nov-2010

An application to register Jersey Butter with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) has been rejected.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) ruled that Jersey Butter does not satisfy the criteria under EU law to be registered as a PDO. The UK government department added that the name does not meet the criteria to be considered a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).

With some differences, the PGI and PDO are both designed to protect the use of names where there is an established link between a product and a specific geographical area. Champagne, for example, has a protected geographical status that prevents sparkling wines produced outside the region from bearing the name.

In the case of Jersey Butter the rejection of the application, originally filed in 2008, will be a disappointment for the Jersey Milk Marketing Board but Jersey cow breeders outside the island of Jersey will be breathing a sigh of relief.

Only a small percentage of Jersey butter comes from the island with the vast majority coming from Jersey cows in the US, UK, Denmark and other parts of Europe.

DEFRA reasoning

In explaining its decision not to award a PDO, DEFRA said: “We are not convinced that it has been sufficiently established that the quality or characteristics of the product are essentially or exclusively due to the particular geographical environment of Jersey.”

DEFRA said it is of the opinion that the characteristics of Jersey butter are due more to the qualities of Jersey cows than the geographical area.

With regards to a PGI, which does not demand such strong links to a geographical area as a PDO, DEFRA upheld objections that said awarding a Jersey Butter PGI would be misleading to consumers. It was argued that it is widely understood that ‘Jersey’ refers to a breed of cow, that the character of the product is due to the cow not the island of Jersey and that registering a PGI would therefore mislead consumers.

There is now a period of 14 days lasting until 6 December during which applications can be made to review the DEFRA decision.

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