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Yorkshire rhubarb joins Europe’s protected food elite

News Release

Ref: 38/10
Date: 25 February 2010

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn today praised rhubarb producers from Yorkshire whose vegetable has joined the ranks of Champagne and Parma Ham on a list of Europe’s specially-protected food and drink.

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has been awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Commission’s Protected Food Name scheme after being recommended by Defra.

Hilary Benn said:

“'I was really pleased to meet Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb growers at Defra’s Christmas market which showcased many excellent products from all over Britain, and I'm very happy that their hard work has paid off.

“Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has been recognised thanks to the quality of this traditionally grown product and the enthusiasm and commitment shown by all involved.

“I want to see even more of the best of British produce being protected.”

The vegetable is grown and harvested by candlelight in an area known as the ‘rhubarb triangle’ between Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds, using unique, traditional methods resulting in sweet, tender pink rhubarb.

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is the 41st British product to be added to the list of legally-protected names, joining the likes of Swaledale Cheese, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar and Cornish Sardines.

Chief Executive of the Regional Food Group for Yorkshire and Humber (RFG), Jonathan Knight said:

“This is a great achievement for the region. Six years ago, RFG was tasked by Yorkshire Forward to find Yorkshire products which had the potential to achieve Protected Food Name status, and we chose Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb because of its heritage and the traditional methods still used.

“Patience, persistence, various meetings with the twelve key growers and a lot of effort on all parts has culminated in a fantastic result, which will help to confirm the unique Yorkshire rhubarb triangle as the home of forced rhubarb.

“We will continue to work with producers on submitting products to the PFN scheme, helping to put Yorkshire’s mark on the national and European food map.”

Celebrating the good news, Janet Oldroyd of the Yorkshire Rhubarb Growers Association said:

“Awarding PDO status to Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is fantastic news for British food.

“To the 12 growers left in the rhubarb triangle, a future is now certain. To the hundreds of farmers long since gone this is, in part, recognition of their hard work, dedication and steadfast belief in their product that has kept this industry alive since the early 1950s.

“The public will be certain that our product is exactly of the quality and flavour expected of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb as all producers must not only be in the designated area, but will be extensively audited, ensuring traditional production methods are maintained.”

The success of the application is a result of the close co-operation between Defra, the Yorkshire Rhubarb Growers Association, the Regional Food Group for Yorkshire and Humber and the body responsible for administering the scheme in England, ADAS.

Notes to editors

  1. Further details about Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb can be found at Defra's protected food names web pages.
  2. Defra work closely with ADAS, (the delivery body responsible for dealing with the administration of the scheme) and a wide range of other organisation to raise awareness of the Protected Food Name (PFN) scheme and encourage more applications.
  3. The EU Protected Food Name scheme came into force in 1993.  It provides for a system for the protection of food names on a geographical or traditional recipe basis.   The designations are Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). The scheme highlights regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed.  Under this system a named food or drink registered at a European level will be given legal protection against imitation throughout the EU.
  4. Further information about the EU scheme, together with application forms and guidance notes can be obtained from ADAS on 020 7238 6678, or irene.bocchetta@adas.co.uk
  5. Details of the scheme, including a full list of UK (and other Member States’) products covered, can be found on the EU website: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/.
  6. Forty-one British products now enjoy protection under the scheme including Arbroath Smokies, Cornish Clotted Cream, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Welsh Lamb.  There are almost 40 other applications currently in the pipeline to protect various UK products.

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Page published: 25 February 2010