Clotted Cream Wars

CORNWALL, England – What is the true goal of a Protected Designations of Origin (PDO)? Is it to maintain and protect the long heritage and tradition of a product or can it also be a growing and evolving definition, one that reflects changes to a product over time? These are some of the questions emerging from a corporate battle over Cornish clotted cream.

Devon cream teaCornish clotted cream is a thick cow’s milk-based cream produced in Cornwall, England with a warm yellow color and a golden crust on top that is well-known by afternoon tea aficionados. Cornwall’s grass is rich in carotene and has a long growing season, allowing the cows that graze on it to produce milk that is extremely high in butterfat and has a distinctive color. In 1998, the PDO was granted for clotted cream produced in Cornwall, using Cornish milk, with a fat content of at least 55%, and created using a specifically designated process. Last month a filing was made by Trewithen Dairy suggesting that the definitions are outdated and that clotted cream sold in bulk to manufacture other products should be allowed a more flexible definition.

Trewithen wishes to continue to produce a Cornish clotted cream for bulk sales in which the crust is actually mixed into the product rather than on the top. Their biggest rival, Rodda’s, argues that this change would go against the very spirit of a PDO designation. Rodda’s managing director, Nicholas Rodda, was quoted in The Independent saying, “The role of PDO is to protect the traditional foods. Changing it undermines the whole reason for its existence.”

Comments will be collected by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) about the proposed changes until March 2014 with a ruling to follow.