The village of Stilton is in the middle of a battle for its cheesemaking rights.
Despite giving its name to the famous blue-veined Stilton cheese, the village is not allowed to use the name for any cheese it produces. Stilton cheese has a protected designation of origin status (PDO) meaning that it can only be made in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
The villagers of Stilton have applied to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to be included in the PDO, citing new historical evidence uncovered by historian Richard Landy that shows Stilton was the original place of manufacture prior to 1788.
However, the Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association have argued that there is no evidence of cheese production in Stilton for over 200 years, and that they have a duty to protect Stilton’s PDO status because consumers need to know where a product comes from.
In a debate on BBC TV, Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said that this was simply a case of the Association protecting the monopoly of their cheese cartel and trying to stop any newcomers from entering the market.
DEFRA began their consultations earlier this year and, if the bid is successful, it will go before the European Commission in Brussels for a decision.
Why does it matter?
There are five dairies currently making Blue Stilton cheese all within a 15-mile radius of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, which contribute over £50m to the local economy and a further £65m through local tourism…