BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Friday, 2 June, 2000, 05:43 GMT 06:43 UK
Fight for 'Cornish' pasty
Pasty makers at work
Three million pasties are made in Cornwall each week
Pasty makers outside Cornwall could be banned from calling their snacks "Cornish" pasties under European rules.

Cornwall County Council is applying to the European Commission for the term to be given protected status, claiming the humble pasty is a uniquely Cornish invention.

The move comes two years after the county successfully secured an EC resolution banning producers outside Cornwall from calling their clotted cream "Cornish".

It's about proving to MAFF and Europe that the pasty is important to Cornwall's economic development

Cornwall County Council
Similar European commercial protection already exists for products including Roquefort cheese, Italian olive oil, Jersey royal potatoes and Newcastle brown ale.

Before applying to Europe the council must make its case to the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

MAFF has advised that there is no definitive recipe or shape for a Cornish pasty and the raw ingredients do not always come from the county.

Instead Cornwall will have to prove the pasty's cultural significance.

Cornwall trading standards spokesman Liz Carveth said: "We are looking to put together a bid showing that it originated in Cornwall and got its identity in Cornwall.

"We're interested in any historical documents like letters from people who took the recipe with them abroad or old photographs of people eating pasties."

Economic need

A council spokesman said the best pasties were to be had in Cornwall but the county's real motive was economic not patriotic.

"We have had the most experience and therefore our bakers produce the best pasties.

"But this isn't about quality, it's about proving to MAFF and Europe that the pasty is important to Cornwall's economic development," he said.

Around three million pasties are produced in the county every week and the biggest producer, Ginsters, employs over 1,000 people.

Council executive member for the economy Mark Jeffrey said: "This is bound to encourage national purchasers like supermarkets and roadside services to seek out the truly Cornish product rather than pasties with an ill-defined pedigree."

Established history

A council spokesman said one of the earliest references to pasties was in 1300 when it was referred to as a raised meat pie.

In the Middle Ages venison pasties became a great favourite among the gentry.

In the 18th Century, wives of Cornish farmers and fishermen created a more humble "worker's version" as portable food for their men, he said.

Pasty enthusiasts in Cornwall are still smarting from an attack on their beloved snack by New York Times food critic William Grimes.

Mr Grimes said: "Cornwall, England probably offers more bad food per square mile than anywhere else in the civilised world."

His comments sparked a transatlantic war of words which culminated in award-winning Cornish pasty maker Ann Muller burning the Stars and Stripes outside her pasty shop at The Lizard.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

01 Dec 98 | Europe
Italians hamstrung by UK ruling
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories