Irish grass-fed beef could get special EU status

Achill Island Sea Salt may also be set to receive special protection from Brussels

"Irish grass-fed beef" and Achill Island Sea Salt could be destined for elevated status as designated EU foods with special protection from pale imitations.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said on Friday it had initiated the process whereby Irish grass-fed beef would be given protected geographical indication (PGI) status, while Achill Island Sea Salt is proposed for protected designation of origin (PDO) status.

Geographical indications such as those under the PGI and PDO schemes are a type of intellectual property right, protecting food product names which are linked to a particular territory or to a production method. The EU schemes are beneficial to producers as they allow for identification and protection of names of specific agricultural products which have particular value-adding characteristics linked to their place of origin.

Irish grass-fed beef is the name to be given to “quality Irish beef raised on a grass-based diet on pasture grazing farms in Ireland”, the department said. If approved it would joined the ranks of Irish whiskey and Irish cream liqueur in being given PGI status.

Achill Island Sea Salt is a hand-harvested sea salt from the waters around Achill Island, Co Mayo. If ratified, it would be given the same designation as protected products such as Oriel Sea Salt.

A "national opposition procedure" must be undertaken before applications can be submitted to the European Commission. This provides the opportunity for objections to be lodged. On successful completion of the national opposition procedure, the applications are submitted to the European Commission for examination and possible ratification.