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Beef from Denmark’s wading sea cows gets protected status

Category : Business

EU decrees Wadden Sea beef produced in Jutland should have same status as champagne and parmesan cheese

The meat from wading sea cows that graze on Denmark’s west coast has been given protected geographical food name status by the EU – the same status enjoyed by champagne and parmesan cheese.

The protection covers the meat from the Holstein cattle raised in the marshes of the Wadden (wading) sea in southwestern Jutland.

“It gives us a good stamp on a good product that we have,” said Andreas Andreasen, who represents an association of local farmers.

“We sought this approval so that it could be known more widely.”

The beef is said to gain a distinct flavour from the tidal flats’ salt content, in a grazing tradition that goes back 1,000 years.

“Chefs have told us there is a distinct difference in the meat’s taste from other cows – a more powerful taste,” said Andreasen.

According to the Danish ministry of food, blind taste tests of the Wadden Sea beef proved the meat was juicier, more tender and more fragrant than conventional beef.

More than 1,000 such designations of origin have been registered since the EU scheme began in 1992, the idea being that protected names signify authentic products from distinct geographic areas.

The EU says the protection denotes quality and helps farmers reconnect with consumers in a modern era when shoppers often live thousands of miles away from where goods are produced.

But the designations have also led to criticism of member states accused of using them to claim sole ownership of generic product names.

The protections are currently mostly only enforceable in the EU, but the 27-member trading bloc has introduced the scheme to other markets such as China through bilateral trade agreements.

In 2005, Denmark was one of Europe’s largest producers of feta cheese but was forced to stop using the name after the European commission awarded Greece the sole right to the term. Danish producers now call their product “salad cheese”.

Wadden Sea beef – Denmark’s fourth protected product – is mostly sold domestically, but the meat’s producers hope the protected naming will encourage exports.

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