Stichelton takes Stilton PDO fight to Parliament
Stichelton Dairy has taken its fight to the Houses of Parliament as it continues to battle EU rules that prevent it calling its blue cheese ‘Stilton’ because the product is made with raw milk.
With the backing of his local MP John Mann, producer Joe Schneider met farming minister George Eustice on December 16 to argue the case for his blue Stichelton cheese to be included in the Protected Designation of Origin rules that governs production of Stilton.
Mann hosted a press tasting of the dairy’s cheese on College Green to raise awareness and highlight the anomaly.
The Stichelton Dairy near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, which started producing its raw milk blue cheeses in October 2006 in conjunction with partner Welbeck Abbey, lies within the protected geographical area for Stilton production. But, because the dairy makes its cheese in a traditional way using unpasteurised milk, it is prevented from selling its cheese as Stilton.
Schneider told FFD he was hopeful his two-year campaign had sufficient momentum to persuade Defra to forward an amendment to the PDO to the European Commission in Brussels.
He added that Stilton was the only cheese PDO in Europe that specifically prohibited the use of raw milk, primarily because it was omitted from the original application for PDO status.
He argued the use of raw milk was more in keeping with traditional cheese production, and that excluding it ensured smaller artisan producers were excluded from the market, which made a mockery out of the PDO system.
“It could take another four years, but it is about trying to fix an egregious area in the PDO,” he said.
Bassetlaw MP John Mann has already raised this issue directly with the Minister on the Floor of the House of Commons and last month tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue, regretting the Defra “bureaucracy that means that any cheese made using traditional methods, as used for 4,000 years in England, are currently stopped from being sold as stilton.”
According to the PDO specification for Stilton, White Stilton, Blue Stilton, Mature Blue and/or Vintage Blue Stilton can only be made from pasteurised milk from dairy herds from the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.