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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 11:19 GMT
Pork pie protectionists win case
Melton Mowbray pork pie
The legal challenge by Northern Foods failed
Pork pie-makers in the Melton Mowbray region have been told they can apply to Europe for the same sort of exclusivity enjoyed by Champagne.

A High Court judge has turned down a challenge by Leeds-based Northern Foods aiming to stop the move.

The government is backing the pie makers' bid to protect the area's recipe and create an exclusive 1,800 square-mile "Melton Pork Pie" zone.

The Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association will now proceed with its application.

Pasties and rhubarb

Hundreds of workers make the pies at Northern Foods' factories in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, and Market Drayton, Shropshire - which is outside the "zone".

The association has enlisted the support of the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in its battle to stop other manufacturers using the town's name and reputation to sell pies lacking the correct ingredients and not made in the Melton area.

It wants the same kind of protection enjoyed by Champagne and Stilton cheese.

The Melton Mowbray pork pie market is worth 50m a year and the association says the High Court case could prove a milestone for British regional foods, including Cornish pasties, Cumberland sausages and Yorkshire rhubarb.

Northern Foods challenged Defra's position, saying authentic Melton Mowbray pies have been produced far from Leicestershire for over 100 years and complained of "the artificial nature" of the zone.

If the application to the EC succeeds, it would be an offence to sell a Melton Mowbray pork pie not made to the right recipe and made outside the protected zone.

Matthew O'Callaghan of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association said: "It is important for the protection of traditional, regional foods that applications like ours should not be defeated merely by the threat of legal action from large manufacturers."

See a Melton Mowbray pie

Town awaits verdict on pork pies
28 Feb 05 |  Leicestershire
Pastry company slashes 200 jobs
10 Feb 05 |  Northamptonshire
Melton leads country's workforce
29 Nov 04 |  Leicestershire

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