MP confident law can change to allow Stilton to be made in Cambridgeshire village

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara has said he is confident protection of the ‘stilton’ name for the famous cheese is not a matter for EU law but one for ‘English law’ - and that the cheese could be able to be made in the Cambridgeshire village after Brexit.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:48 pm
Shailesh Vara

Currently the world famous blue cheese can only be made in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire - but not in Stilton, located to the south of Peterborough.

It is thought the cheese was originally sold in the village - and one historian found evidence it was made there.

Now North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara has called for rules to be changed to allow Stilton to be made in Stilton, and said the regulations preventing that from happening were down to the EU. He said he would be campaigning to prevent the name protection still standing after Brexit.

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However, Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the UK Protected Food Names Association, said it is English law that means the cheese can only be produced in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and not EU regulations.

Today Mr Vara responded to Mr O’Callaghan, and said: “It is disappointing that Mr Matthew O’Callaghan, Chairman of the UK Protected Food Names Association is claiming that protection of the ‘stilton’ name for the famous cheese is not a matter for EU law but one for ‘English law’.

“DEFRA, the Government department responsible, said it is an EU matter and it has been referred to as such in national newspapers. Moreover, the BBC have said that it is an EU matter.

“Mr O’Callaghan’s assertion is surprising as in the past he has acknowledged it to be an EU issue. On 3rd January 2012, with reference to ‘stilton’ cheese being made in the village of Stilton, he is quoted on the BBC website as saying “I will fight it all the way if necessary, to the European Commission and the courts.””

Mr Vara added: “I appreciate that existing producers of stilton cheese wish to protect their exclusive rights to this lucrative business, said to be worth £50 million annually, but it is important arguments are conducted on the basis of facts.

“As the MP for North West Cambridgeshire, which includes the village of Stilton, I have been approached by constituents who wish to make the famous cheese locally. Historical evidence proves that the cheese was originally made in Stilton village in 1722 and it would be fantastic if we could make the cheese again. It would be great for local jobs and tourism and it would certainly be a boost for the local economy.”