Orkney cheddar cheese granted protected status by European Union

Cheese a crowd: Inferior brands are accused of trading on Scottish reputations.
European Union: Orkney cheddar cheese joining other protected foods.© Anya Quinn

Orkney cheddar has been granted protected status by the European Union.

Like Stornoway black pudding and Arbroath smokies, the cheese now has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status which assures consumers they are buying a genuine product.

Orkney Scottish island cheddar has been produced with locally sourced milk from the islands following a recipe passed through generations since 1946.

General manager Tim Deakin said: "The accreditation communicates to our consumers the uniqueness and heritage of Orkney Scottish island cheddar which differs from other traditional cheddars due to its unique dry-stir production method.

"The history of our product is equally unusual. The creamery was built after World War II on the site of a former RAF base just outside Kirkwall. At the end of the war, the departure of 60,000 servicemen and women stationed on the islands left a surplus of milk amongst the local dairy farmers.

"They decided to join forces and ever since, the production of Orkney Scottish island cheddar has remained true to traditional methods."

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the EU recognition is "superb news" that guarantees the reputation of the cheese.

He said: "Receiving the highly sought-after PGI status is a real result for the local community in Orkney. Cheesemakers on the islands have worked extremely hard to achieve this successful application to the EU's Protected Food Names scheme and I'm sure they'll go on to reap the benefits.

"It is extremely important for the public to know where their food comes from. This scheme gives customers from both Scotland and further afield a guarantee that what they are buying is the genuine, high-quality cheddar from Orkney."

Twelve other Scottish food products have PGI status: Stornoway black pudding, Shetland lamb, Orkney beef, Orkney lamb, Scottish farmed salmon, Scottish wild salmon, Scotch lamb, Scotch beef, Arbroath smokies, native Shetland wool, Teviotdale cheese and Bonchester cheese.