THE Mercury is backing a fight to protect Lincolnshire sausages – and is calling on readers to join our campaign.
We are supporting butchers from across the area who are outraged that the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs has rejected a bid to grant the sausage Protected Geographical Indication.
The status would have meant that only sausages produced in the county of a specific quality could have been sold under the title of Lincolnshire sausages.
We say only bangers made in the county containing at least 70 per cent pork and sage should be called Lincolnshire sausages. At present 95 per cent of so-called Lincolnshire sausages are made outside the county.
The bid to Defra was made by the Lincolnshire Sausage Association which has until June 15 to decide whether to appeal. We hope it will – and want a wave of public opinion to support its efforts.
BUTCHERS in the area say they are extremely disappointed by the decision not to give Lincolnshire sausages protected status.
The owner of meat and poultry suppliers Grasmere Farm, Stuart Stables, is a member of the committee which put together the application for protected status.
He said: “Defra has kowtowed to the wishes of big businesses with huge financial clout which is disappointing. They have effectively said there is no such thing as a Lincolnshire sausage because everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon.
“We know ourselves that if you go into Nelsons or our shop, you get a slightly different sausage but the essence is the same and if you go to Cornwall, there is a vast difference between Cornish pasties but that won protection.
“It’s about the coarseness of the texture and the flavours of sage. Other sausages produced from outside of the county are vastly inferior.”
Grasmere Farm has a farm shop in Deeping St James, where it is based, and a shop in High Street, Stamford, and Mr Stables said both shops sold “vast amounts of Lincolnshire sausages” compared to its next most popular sausage, a plain pork.
Guy Gilman is director of Nelsons Butchers, which is based in North Street, Stamford, and has shops in Broad Street and Red Lion Square.
Mr Gilman said getting the protected status would “preserve the quality of the sausages”.
He said: “This is a sad day for the Lincolnshire sausage. This is another example where a fantastic regional product made by artisan producers is butchered by large scale producers for the mass market producing a poor quality product.”
More than 30 varieties of sausages are produced at Groovy Foods in Stamford Road, Bourne, and Rachael Robinson who runs the farm shop with her husband Duncan said their Lincolnshire and love sausage was still one of the most popular.
She said: “It’s great to have a product specific to your area to be proud of. Our Lincolnshire and love sausage is by far our most popular. People come from far and wide to get a traditional Lincolnshire sausage.”
And Alec Day of Alec Day Butchers in Abbey Road, Bourne, said: “If they can protect the Melton Mowbray pork pie, I don’t see why they can’t do it with our sausages.
“It would have stopped a lot of people out of the county selling them which would have been good for business.”
If the application had been granted, it would have meant that all Lincolnshire sausages produced in the county would have contained at least 70 per cent pork with seven core ingredients, including the key ingredient of sage.
The association argued that Lincolnshire sausages have a long-standing association with the county having been made here at least 150 years and are produced by about 150 butchers in the county using family recipes.
In turning down the application, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs said there were too many different recipes being used, there was no link between the ingredients used in the sausages and the county and that the reputation of Lincolnshire sausages was not linked to the county.
The department also said that 95 per cent of all sausages labelled Lincolnshire were produced outside the county.
There were three objections to the application but one of those objectors was representing five sausage manufacturers, all based outside of Lincolnshire.
Chairman of the association Janet Godfrey said: “Support for this application from Defra would have helped to boost well over 150 small to medium businesses in the county and we are sad and disappointed with the decision.”
Mrs Godfrey, who is based in Brigg, North Lincolnshire, said the association was trying to raise the funds to appeal.
She added that she was delighted with all the support received so far, which even includes the Lincolnshire Sausage Protest Song penned by The Ruffs and can be viewed at www.stamfordmercury.co.uk.
You can get involved in the campaign to protect the Lincolnshire sausage.
Add your name to the petition coupon in this week’s Mercury demanding Defra gives the Lincolnshire sausage protected status.
We will forward all completed coupons to Defra.
Complete the coupon and send it to Rutland and Stamford Mercury, Sheep Market, Stamford PE9 2 QZ.