London – They make fine cheese in the English village of Stilton. Just don’t call it stilton.
British authorities say a pub there cannot market its blue-veined cheese as stilton because that name is protected by European Union legislation.
The Bell Inn in Stilton has been forced to sell its cheese as Bells Blue rather than stilton.
The EU rules, based on British government guidelines, say the name can only apply to cheese from the English counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, where it has long been made. Stilton, in the county of Cambridgeshire, lies outside that area, but became renowned for selling the sharp-tasting cheese in the 18th century. It gave its name to the product, but historians are divided about whether it was traditionally made there.
A local cheese company asked the government to amend the Protected Designation of Origin rules to include Stilton. But the food ministry said it could only consider an application from the pub, because it was the maker of the cheese. “If there were an application from the Bell Inn, we would consider it,” the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.
Bell Inn landlord Liam McGivern accused the government of rejecting the application on a technicality and vowed to fight on. “It’s ridiculous that we can’t make stilton in Stilton,” he said.