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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » November 25, 2011
Regional and Traditional Products
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Kabanos Sausages
November 25, 2011   
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The latest Polish product to be included on the EU list of traditional specialties guaranteed (TSGs) are kabanosy (kabanos sausages)—thin dried smoked pork sausages, registered in October.

The name kabanos comes from kaban, a word used in 19th-century Poland to denote an extensively fed young pig. Kabanosy are long, thin sticks of dry sausage twisted off at one end. These sticks are folded in half, with an indentation in the bend showing where they were hung. The surface of the sausages is dark red with a cherry tint. A diagonal cross-section shows dark red pieces of meat and cream-colored pieces of fat. A kabanos sausage’s surface is smooth, dry and evenly wrinkled. Kabanosy have a strong taste of roast cured pork and a slightly smoky aftertaste of caraway and pepper.

The special character of kabanos sausages is the result of several features typical for this product: the tenderness, juiciness and specific qualities of the meat, the unique flavor and aroma, and the uniform and distinctive shape. Another characteristic feature of kabanos sausages is the audible cracking noise they make when they are broken in two, which is due to the meat’s tenderness and the way the sausages are dried and smoked.

Kabanosy were eaten throughout Poland as early as the 1920s and 1930s. Before that, in the mid-19th century, hams, ribs and sausages from kaban meat had been produced at farms for rural families’ own use. Kabanos sausages were very popular when Poland was under communism from 1945 to 1989, becoming a Polish export specialty next to ham and bacon.

There were a few problems with registering kabanosy as a Polish specialty. During the registration procedure, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic raised objections. While the Austrians and the Czechs withdrew their protest quickly, the Germans refused to agree to the registration for several months. They argued that kabanos sausages were too popular to treat them as a traditional product reserved for a single country. In the end they accepted that this particular EU trademark means a traditional recipe and not a restricted region of production. Once a TSG registration certificate is obtained, all EU countries will be able to make kabanosy, but only Poland will be allowed to place the EU logo on the packaging.

The TSG trademark is one of the pillars of quality in the EU’s agricultural policy, its aim being to promote high-quality agricultural products and support the development of rural areas. The logo is awarded for the distinctive character of the product submitted for registration. For a product to be recognized as a TSG it has to be made using traditional ingredients or has to have a traditional composition, production method or processing method. It can be made all over the country as long as it meets all the specific requirements.

EU law provides for the registration of product names based on the place and method of production and processing (Protected Designation of Origin—PDO), the geographical origin of the products making up a given product (Protected Geographical Indication—PGI) or a traditional production method (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed—TSG). As the European Commission points out, having products registered on these lists of protected names of foods fosters agricultural diversity, helps eliminate fake products, and facilitates sales. Over 30 Polish products have been entered in the EU’s PDO, PGI and TSG registers so far.
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