Turnip or swede? Brussels rules on ingredients of Cornish pasty

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Thanks for Retuning!

However the Cornish are unusual in referring to swede as turnip, even though they differ markedly. The former is white with a sharp taste while the latter is orange with a more earthy flavour.

Because of this linguistic quirk, the regulations have been amended to allow either term to be used on the label although only one of the two is allowed in the pasty.

This will mean that genuine Cornish pasties will be allowed to go on sale advertised as containing turnip, but will break the rules if they actually do contain the rogue root vegetable.

William Dartmouth, UKIP MEP for the South West said: “It just goes to prove that anyone who tries to micro-manage the rich heritage of this country is simply asking for trouble.

“Distant Eurocrats will never understand the quirky intricacies of life in the UK, the local language and customs that have grown up over centuries.

“The case of the phantom turnip is only the latest in a long line of food-related chaos inflicted on us by Europe. It’s time they learnt their lesson and gave us all a break.”

The draft regulations giving Protected Geographical Indication status to the Cornish pasty, published last month and due to come into force in January, specify that the product must be D-shaped and crimped on one side, “never on top”.

The EC regulation on the Cornish pasty, number 510/2006, goes on to explain that the crust was used as a handle by miners and farmworkers who became its main consumers by the 19th century.

It notes: “Traditionally, in Cornwall ‘swede’ is referred to as ‘turnip’ so the two terms are interchangeable, but the actual ingredient is ‘swede’.”

European Commission spokesman Albena Dimitrova-Borisova said: “It will be for the control authorities in the UK to put in place the necessary enforcement, ensuring the product is produced in conformity with the specification, not least for the ingredients.

“They must have the necessary technical knowledge as a condition to be able to certify a product or process. An appreciation of the local name for a key ingredient should be part of that.”

The Cornish Pasty Association, which represents the county’s traditional bakers, applied for protected status for the delicacy earlier this year, in order to prevent rivals elsewhere in England passing their inferior products as the genuine article.

But it too has been left confused by the phantom turnip rule.

A spokesman said: “It will probably mean something different to small bakeries rather than people that mass-produce Cornish pasties for exporting.

“We are going to take advice from the EU because of the potential confusion on terminology. We will have to see what accommodation they are reaching.”

The EC is infamous for producing rules and regulations about food, although it maintains a list of “Euromyths” detailing where it believes they have been misunderstood by the press.

Last year it lifted a 20 year-old rule governing the sale of odd-shaped fruit and vegetables, which included the notorious stipulation that Class 1 cucumbers had to be “reasonably well shaped and practically straight” with a maximum “arc” of 10mm per 10cm length.

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