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Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA with potato growers Robin McKee (left) and son Ivan (right) as the humble Irish potato has been bestowed with special status after being singled out for protection by European law makers Photo by: PA

Europe sees the wonder of the Irish potato - spud given same status as Champagne

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Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA with potato growers Robin McKee (left) and son Ivan (right) as the humble Irish potato has been bestowed with special status after being singled out for protection by European law makers Photo by: PA

A special type of potato harvested only in Co Down in Northern Ireland has been granted special protection under the European Union law. The Comber Early potato’s new protection means that it’s name cannot be used by any other farmers unless it comes from that certain area in Down.

The Irish Mirror
reports that the Comber Early, also known as New Season Comber Potatoes, are guaranteed protection from now on under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) under EU law. Other products in the EU that benefit from this protection are Champagne, which only comes from the Champagne area in France, feta cheese, and Parma Ham.

Only the potatoes, whose trademark is an early harvest, found around the Co Down village can be called New Season Comber Potatoes or Comber Earlies.

Comber Earlies are only the second product from Northern Ireland to be granted PGI status, with the other being Lough Neagh Eels.

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"It is a real testament to New Season Combers that within an island known for potatoes, they can be identified as having unique characteristics,“ said Angus Wilson of the Northern Ireland Potato Stakeholders Forum

Michelle O’Neill, the agriculture and rural development minister at Stormont, was rather pleased with the new status granted to the Northern Irish product.

“New Season Combers/Comber Earlies are famed throughout the north of Ireland for being the earliest local potato to be harvested and for their unique characteristics," she said. "We are justifiably proud of the quality of our locally produced food and it is encouraging to have our products recognised internationally.”

In addition, O’Neill looks forward to the benefit local economy may receive from the newly categorized Comber. Farmers will be able to market the product more efficiently without having to deal with imitations, and the classification is sure to help build consumer confidence.

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