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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 21, 2012
Polska…tastes good!
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Polish Regional and Traditional Products
December 21, 2012   
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In 2004, when Poland was entering the European Union, many Polish farmers feared competition from more developed countries whose agricultural sectors were dominated by intensive farming. But it soon turned out that what had initially aroused fears and a sense of being inferior was in fact an advantage. The fragmentation of Polish farms, coupled with the low amount of agricultural chemicals used, means that the Polish agricultural sector is naturally predisposed to produce quality, organic and natural foods, which are highly sought after by Europeans.

Natural organic farming is a tradition that Polish farmers have passed from father to son. Agricultural products produced in this way are then processed by traditional methods into top-quality foods, which are the pride and showpiece of the areas from which they come.

List of Traditional Products
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development keeps a List of Traditional Products. The list was compiled in 2004 and is a compendium of information on Polish traditional foods. The list is composed of products whose quality and exceptional features and properties result from the use of traditional production methods, and are part of the cultural heritage of the region and of the identity of the local community. More than 1,000 foods have already been entered on the list, which shows just how important and popular it is.

Products Protected in the European Union
Polish farmers are trying to exploit as well as they can the opportunity offered by the EU’s agricultural product quality policy. This is reflected by the steadily rising number of foodstuffs which farmers seek to register under the Protected Designation of Origin and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed schemes. The regional and traditional food sector is expanding rapidly in Poland and more producers want to produce quality food. This is why special support measures have been designed for them under the Program for the Development of Rural Areas for the years 2007-2013.

One of the reasons why farmers are interested in registering regional and traditional products is that the production, protection and promotion of quality food play an important role in the EU. The main objective of the EU’s agricultural product quality policy is to encourage diverse agricultural production, protect product names from misuse and imitation, and help consumers by providing them with information concerning the specific character of the registered products. These products contribute our traditional tastes and high quality to Europe’s culinary heritage.

So far 36 Polish products have been registered in the EU quality schemes—nine in the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) scheme, 18 in the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) scheme, and nine in the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) scheme.

Regional and Traditional Products
Are Registered as:
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)—The quality and properties of a product registered under this scheme have to be significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical environment, including its natural and human factors such as climate, soil quality and local know-how. The product for which the PDO status is sought has to be strongly associated with the region where it comes from—its production, processing and preparation has to take place within the determined geographical area.

Polish products registered by the European Commission as PDO: bryndza podhalańska, oscypek and redykołka cheeses, wiśnia nadwiślanka (cherry variety), podkarpacki miód spadziowy (honeydew honey from the Podkarpacie region), karp zatorski (carp from the Zator region), fasola Piękny Jaś z Doliny Dunajca/fasola z Doliny Dunajca (bean variety from the Dunajec River Valley), fasola wrzawska (bean variety from the Podkarpacie region) and miód z sejneńszczyzny/Miód z Łoździej (honey from the Sejny area in Poland and from Lazdijai in Lithuania).

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)—covers agricultural products whose quality, reputation and properties are closely linked to a specific geographical area. At least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the area to which the product’s name refers.

Polish products registered by the European Commission as PGI: miód wrzosowy z Borów Dolnośląskich (heather honey from Lower Silesia Forests), rogal świętomarciński (crescent-shaped bun from the Wielkopolska region), wielkopolski ser smażony (fried cheese from the Wielkopolska region), andruty kaliskie (wafers from Kalisz), truskawka kaszubska/kaszëbskô malëna (strawberry variety from the Kashubia region), fasola korczyńska (bean variety from the Nowy Korczyn area), miód kurpiowski (honey from the Kurpie region), kiełbasa lisiecka (sausage from the Małopolska region), suska sechlońska (dried plum from the Małopolska region), obwarzanek krakowski (bagel-like bread from Cracow), jabłka łąckie (apple variety from the Małopolska region), śliwka szydłowska (dried plum from Szydłów), chleb prądnicki (bread variety from Prądnik, Małopolska region), miód drahimski (honey from northwestern Poland), jabłka grójeckie (apple variety from Grójec, Mazovia region), kołocz śląski/kołacz śląski (raised cake from Silesia), ser koryciński swojski (cheese from Podlasie region), jagnięcina podhalańska (lamb meat from the Podhale region).

Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG)—is a traditional agricultural product or foodstuff registered by the European Commission because it has a certain feature or a set of features that set it clearly apart from other similar products or foodstuffs belonging to the same category. These features include taste, aroma and a specific ingredient used in the production process. For an agricultural product or foodstuff to be entered in the register, it has to be manufactured using traditional ingredients or must be characteristic for its traditional composition or production process.

Polish products registered by the European Commission as TSG: staropolskie miody pitne (old Polish meads) among them półtorak, dwójniak, trójniak and czwórniak, olej rydzowy (camelina oil), pierekaczewnik, kiełbasa jałowcowa (smoked sausage with juniper berries), kiełbasa myśliwska (hunter’s sausage), kabanosy (pork sausage with caraway seeds).

Benefits of Using PDO, PGI and TSG
The registration of a product’s name in the PDO, PGI or TSG scheme is a guarantee that no one in the European Union will be able to legally use the registered name to sell their products. Only producers who come from the specified area and manufacture the product in line with its specification in the defined geographical area have the right to use the PDO, PGI or TSG label and the registered name. Registration protects the producer of a registered product against the illegal use of its name by other producers, emphasizes the uniqueness of the product and provides consumers with reliable information about the origin of the product, its features and traditional methods of production.

Controls and Certification
Ensuring high product quality, which is confirmed through checks conducted at the producer’s request by the Provincial Inspector for the Commercial Quality of Agricultural and Food Products and authorized certifying units, is an important part of the PDO, PGI and TSG systems. Producers choose the certification body and pay the costs involved. The scope and frequency of checks depend on the product’s manufacturing process.

Producers who make their products in compliance with the registered specification are granted quality certificates. This confirms that consumers receive a product of guaranteed high quality.

Photos by Jola Lipka/MRiRW
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