European Quality Certification: PDO, PGI & TSG explained

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European Quality Certification: PDO, PGI & TSG explained

PDO and PGI products represent excellence in European food production and are both the result of a unique combination of human and environmental factors characteristic of a certain geographical area. For this reason the European union dictates precise regulations for their safeguarding, providing for the institution of specific quality norms that protect consumers and provide producers with concrete instruments to better identify and promote products with specific characteristics and protect them from illegal practices.

These designations are European Union indicators of quality and authenticity in terms of regional origin or traditional production. The wines that qualify have met certain requirements for their technical analysis and have passed an organoleptic assessment (a formal tasting).

Three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialities, known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG), promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs. 

They are based on the legal framework provided by the EU Regulation No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. This Regulation (enforced within the EU and being gradually expanded internationally via bilateral agreements between the EU and non-EU countries) ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region can be identified as such in commerce. The purpose of the law is to protect the reputation of the regional foods, promote rural and agricultural activity, help producers obtain a premium price for their authentic products, and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products, which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour.

Protected designation of origin (PDO)

The Protected designation of origin is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country, used as a designation for an agricultural product or a foodstuff, which comes from such an area, place or country, whose quality or properties are significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical environment, including natural and human factors, whose production, processing and preparation takes place within the determined geographical area. In other words, to receive the PDO status, the entire product must be traditionally and entirely manufactured (prepared, processed and produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

Protected geographical indication (PGI)

The Protected geographical indication is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country, used as a description of an agricultural product or a foodstuff, which comes from such an area, place or country, which has a specific quality, goodwill or other characteristic property, attributable to its geographical origin,
whose production, processing or preparation takes place within the determined geographical area. In other words, to receive the PGI status,the entire product must be traditionally and at least partially manufactured (prepared, processed or produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG)

The TSG quality scheme aims to provide a protection regime for traditional food products of specific character. Differing from PDO and PGI, this quality scheme does not certify that the protected food product has a link to specific geographical area. To qualify for a TSG a food must be of “specific character” and either its raw materials, production method or processing must be “traditional”. Under Art. 3 of Regulation 1151/12 “specific character” is defined as “the characteristic production attributes which distinguish a product clearly from other similar products of the same category”. Under Art. 3 of Regulation 1151/12 “traditional” is defined as “proven usage on the domestic market for a period that allows transmission between generations; this period is to be at least 30 years”. For a food name to be registrable under the TSG scheme it must (a) have been traditionally used to refer to the specific product; or (b) identify the traditional character or specific character of the product.

Only those products that demonstrate a consolidated and codified production tradition, an inseparable tie with the area of origin, an appropriate socio-entrepreneurial fabric and which succeed in achieving high qualitative levels, certified by external bodies of control, may aspire to obtaining and retaining the sought-after European Community designations and inscription in European register of PDO and PGI products.

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