Protected esignation of origin (PDO), Zprotected geographical indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) are geographical indications (GIs) defined in European Union Law to protect the names of regional foods. The law (enforced within the EU and being gradually expanded internationally via bilateral agreements of the EU with non-EU countries) ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed in commerce as such. The legislation came into force in 1992. The purpose of the law is to protect the reputation of the regional foods and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products, which may be of inferior quality or of different flavor.

These laws protects the names of wines, cheeses, hams, sausage, olives, beer, and even regional breads, fruits, and vegetables. As such, foods such as Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago cheese, and Champagne can only be labelled as such if they come from the designated region. To qualify as Roquefort, for example, cheese must be made from milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort in the Aveyron region of France where it is infected with the spores of a fungus (Penicillium roqueforti) that grows in these caves.

This system is similar to the French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) used in Italy, and the Denominación de Origen system used in Spain.

Within the European Union[]

Article 13 of this legislation states that registered designations are protected against:

...any usurpation or imitation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated or if the appellation is used in translated form or accompanied by terms such as "kind", "type"...

The geographical limitations can be quite strict. "Newcastle Brown Ale" is restricted to being brewed in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. However, having obtained this protection for their product, the brewery decided in 2004 that it would move across the river Tyne to Gateshead. As Gateshead is a separate city, it does not fall within the required geographical restriction so the brewery is now applying to the European Union authorities to have the geographical restriction revoked–if it is not, the brewery will either have to stay put, or stop calling its beer "Newcastle" brown ale.

This legislation expanded upon the 1951 Stresa Convention, which was the first international agreement on cheese names. Seven countries participated: Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland.

Selected products include Prosciutto Toscano (PDO) from Italy, Marchfeldspargel (PGI) from Austria, Lübecker Marzipan (PGI) from Germany.

Outside the European Union[]

There is no unconditional protection for these names on products both made and sold outside the EU. However there are a number of bilateral agrrements with the EU for some level of enforcement. Agreements of this type exist betwen the EU and Australia (wine, 1994), Canada (wine and spirits, 2003), Chile (wine and spirits, 2002), Mexico (1997, spirit drinks), South Africa (2002, wine and spirits), [1]

United States[]

In the United States, for example, one can buy American champagne, Feta, Gruyère and Camembert. Products which are either made or sold in the EU, such as Australian Shiraz, which is the same grape as Syrah are subject to regulation. For practicality reasons some products which were traditionally made in a specific region are not subject to the PDO, often due to the quantities in which they are consumed, for example the consumption of Cheddar cheese in the UK alone is many times the amount Cheddar itself could feasibly produce.

While the United States usually opposes protection of geographical designations of origin (since many of these which are protected elsewhere are commonly-used generic terms in the United States, such as parmesan cheese), there are some groups who would like to see some degree of protection for their regional designation. For example, Vidalia onions must be produced within a certain region around Vidalia, Georgia as defined by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and 100% Florida orange juice is certified as being such by that state's Department of Citrus. Some of these marks are protected in the United States under certification mark law, such as the Idaho Potato Commission's IDAHO and GROWN IN IDAHO registered marks for potatoes. On the other hand, there are also cases where a geographical name has been trademarked for a particular product that might not even be manufactured there, such as Philadelphia cream cheese. However, there is little impetus to extend further recognitions at the federal level.


Following an agreement during the 1990s by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, and the Australian and EU governments, the others' GIs and the nations' traditional terms of winemaking were meant to have been protected by 1997. However, this has been proceeding slowly and while some GIs have been protected in Australia, others are still available for use (primarily for products that have always been called that). It seems unlikely it will have any effect on colloquial speech in the short term.


In Canada, a 2003 agreement made with the EU provides for protection of the names of wine and spirits. The new classification of names will be done in phases. By the end of 2013, all of the affected names will be protected, including Chablis, Champagne, Port, and Sherry.

Ideally, protected designation of origin is both a consumer protection measure and a way of protecting producers of a region's traditional and/or characteristic foods. In reality, such designations can often become a subject for divisive politics.

List of products with PDO/PGI/TSG classifications[]

A complete list of agricultural products with a European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), listed alphabetically by nation, is at the Europa Agriculture site.


The EU strives to promote this kind of protection within WTO, e.g., via a database of multilateral registers. While having supporters, there is a considerable opposition. The following arguments against are put forth:[1]

  • The potential complexity of the registers may be abused
  • Cultural rights of emigrants, who may want to continue to make their native products
  • Many producers will be affected by the necessary rebranding to avoid narrowing or even closing the markets
  • Extra costs may be incurred by governments, businesses, and consumers
  • That the ingredients of the food determine the end product, rather than the locale where they are assembled.

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