European Union (EU) law lays down strict requirements to guarantee the standards of all European agricultural products and foodstuffs.

EU quality schemes identify products and foodstuffs farmed and produced to rigorous specifications. EU schemes operate in the market alongside a number of public and private certification schemes.

In addition, the European marketing standards encourage EU farmers to produce products of given quality, in conformity with the consumers’ expectations.


1. EU Quality Schemes

For products that bears a link to their geographical origin; look for the logos ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ (PDO) or ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ (PGI).


A PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) gives status to agricultural products and foodstuffs produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how.

Famous PDOs include cheeses (such as Queso Manchego or Feta), cured meats (such as Prosciutto di Parma), olive oils, fruits and vegetables and of course wines.


What is a TSG?

A TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) emphasises a product’s traditional character, either in its composition or means of production.

It is therefore not linked to a geographical region. ‘Jamon Serrano’ is a famous example.



A list of registered names (more than 1300 of them!) is available on the DOOR database:

What is a PGI?

A PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) denotes that agricultural products and foodstuffs are linked by their quality, reputation or other characteristic to a region where at least one stage of production, processing or preparation takes place.

Famous PGIs include beers (Münchener Bier, Ceskobudejovické Pivo), meat (Scotch Beef, many types of French poultry) and also bakery products and fish (notably Scottish Farmed Salmon).


What is Organic Farming?

Organic farming is an agricultural production method which offers the consumers food products that are of good quality and fair tastes, meanwhile pays respect to the natural life cycles of plants and animals. It is based on a number of principles and practices designed to work the land naturally and thereby to minimise human impact on the environment.


Since July 2010, pre-packaged food produced in the EU that claims to be organic must carry the EU organic logo, accompanied with the location information regarding where the relevant agricultural ingredients contained in the claimed organic product was farmed. This label is a mark of confidence in the product that carries it. It reassures the consumers that the foodstuff in question has been processed according to standards set out in the EU legislation. In particular, that:

- 95% of the product’s agricultural ingredients have been organically produced;
- the product complies with the rules of the official control scheme;
- the product has come directly from the producer or preparer in a sealed package;
- the use of additives or processing aids is extremely limited, and that only authorised additives have been used;
- organic and non-organic food ingredients have been stored, handled and processed separately.



To find out more about organic farming in the EU, please visit

2. Marketing standards

The marketing standards state minimum requirements that products sold in the European Union must comply with.

These standards are agreed at European level and are compulsory to follow for most farm products. They define product categories, minimum product standards and some labelling requirements.

They inform the consumer (on the origin or variety of fruits and vegetables for example) and allow price comparison between products of similar quality.


3. Voluntary certification schemes

The voluntary certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs guarantee compliance with specifications which may include requirements on environmental protection, animal welfare, the odour and taste of a product and fair trade.

The European Commission has developed guidelines to harmonise these systems, to limit the constraints on producers and to ensure that consumers are not misled.


4. Hygiene rules

These rules are applied from the ‘farm to the table’ for foods produced in the EU or imported from third countries. The EU´s food security strategy is based on rules related to the security of products intended for human and animal consumption; independent and publicly available scientific advice; and the principle of safeguarding the right of the consumer to make a fully-informed choice.


For more information about EU agricultural product quality policy and European GI products, please take a look at: