GRIMSBY has been given a boost after the town's traditional smoked fish was awarded the same status as Parma ham and feta cheese, giving it legal protection from cheap imitations.
The product is the latest in the UK to be recognised under the EU Regionally Protected Food Names scheme for its quality and regional identity. Champagne, Parma ham and Melton Mowbray pork pies are similarly protected
It was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status because the way the cod and haddock is specially prepared is traditional to the Grimsby area.
The special status means it will become illegal to imitate the smoked fish throughout the European Union and brings the number of UK products protected by EU law to 39.
Hoping to join Grimsby smoked fish are the makers of Wensleydale cheese, who are also in the process of having their products legally protected on the basis of their link to a specific geographical area and because they are made to a traditional recipe.
Celebrating the good news, Richard Enderby, from the Grimsby Smoked Fish Producers Association, said: "We are delighted at the registration of Grimsby smoked fish as a PGI. This status will not only help the traditional fish smokers operating in the port but will also boost the fish processing industry of Grimsby as a whole.
"It is testament to the fact that despite turbulent times throughout its long history, Grimsby remains a premier fish processing centre which has maintained the knowledge and skills that traditional fish smoking embodies."
The Government's Food Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said: "We've been waiting patiently for Grimsby smoked fish to be recognised as a quality, protected product.
"It reinforces Grimsby's long- established ties with the fishing industry and is further proof that quality British regional food is gaining the wider recognition it deserves.
"Ultimately, we should be alongside France and Italy who between them boast more than 300 protected foods – our food is just as good, if not better than any other European country. We want to see the UK's regional foods on the world map where they ought to be."