Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese awarded EU protected food status


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Cracking cheese Gromit! Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese is a favorite of Wallace's.
Cracking cheese Gromit! Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese is a favorite of Wallace's.
Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese maker, Wensleydale Creamery, has been handed an early Christmas present… European Union (EU) Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.

The European Commission (EC) announced yesterday that Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese - a favorite of British TV duo Wallace and Gromit - had been awarded PGI status under the EU Protected Food Names (PFN) scheme.

The scheme, which is designed to “promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs,” ​will ensure that no cheese maker outside of the Wensleydale area of Northern England can produce a cheese and call it Yorkshire Wensleydale.

As of yesterday, Yorkshire Wensleydale may only be produced in the Wensleydale area, which incorporates Hawes, Sedburgh, Bedale, Wharfdale, Midderdale, Ribblesdale, Ripon, and Swaledale.

“No better early Christmas present”

Wensleydale Creamery, the only company producing Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese in the Wensleydale area, applied for PGI status through the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Within its application, the company described Yorkshire Wensleydale as a “creamy-white”​ pressed cheese made from cow’s milk with an “open crumbly, textured appearance.” ​According to the applicant, Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese has been made in the area for more than 500 years.

Commenting on yesterday’s decision, Wensleydale Creamery managing director, David Hartley, said the company is “thrilled”​ that Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese has “now been recognised by the European Commission.”

“Our heritage and provenance makes Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese taste truly unique and we’re delighted this is now officially recognised,”​ said Hartley.

“There could be no better early Christmas present for the whole team here and it is a great platform to propel us into 2014,” ​he added.

More international recognition

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, MP for nearby Richmond, and Yorkshireman, also expressed his delight in the EC decision.

"...there is no greater delicacy in the world than Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese and fruitcake," says Hague.

“Achieving PGI status means many things for Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese; it means more international recognition and more awareness of The Wensleydale Creamery, everybody can see this tremendous mark of quality and its commands national and international respect for this great product,”​ he said.

“Above all, it means that to be Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, you really have to be Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese,”​ said Hague.

Now registered, Yorkshire Wensleydale joins a growing list of protected British cheeses, including Blue Stilton, Dorset Blue, Single Gloucester and Teviotdale.

Prior to yesterday’s decision, Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar was the latest British cheese to receive PGI status. The Scottish government branded the decision “grate news.”

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