Continued fight to protect Lincolnshire sausage could come at a cost
The annual sausage festival takes place in Lincoln this weekend. As final preparations are made, Ryan Butcher finds out how the fight to protect production of our bangers is progressing...
Campaigners fighting to protect the Lincolnshire sausage want to launch a High Court legal battle against the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Lincolnshire Sausage Association (LSA) has been fighting to get protective geographical indication (PGI) status for the much-loved banger for more than seven years.
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It would mean the sage and onion delicacy could only be made within the county by local butchers to a set recipe.
In May, the Government department turned down an initial application for the status.
And last week, it rejected an appeal from the LSA on the grounds that the sausage did not have an "enduring link" with the county.
And speaking ahead of this weekend's BIG Tastes of Lincolnshire Sausage Festival, Janet Godfrey, chairman of the LSA, told the Echo that the group wanted to launch a judicial review to overturn the decision – but that the high price tag of taking the fight to the courts would mean a lot of fundraising.
"The only option we have is to go to a judicial review, which costs a lot of money," she said.
"We don't know how much it will cost us, but it involves barristers and solicitors, which is expensive.
"No one in the LSA can back the judicial review financially on their own – all we can do is try and raise the funds."
The LSA will be among the 60 stalls at this year's BIG Tastes of Lincolnshire Sausage Festival, held on Saturday, October 27, in Lincoln Castle and Castle Hill.
Mrs Godfrey added that the group might have an extra surprise for this year's festival.
She said: "We're thinking of having a scarecrow butcher in a guillotine, or something like that, to show how the Lincolnshire butcher has been shot down in its prime.
"The festival is also a chance for the people to give us their feelings about the Lincolnshire sausage.
"We've had nothing but support so far from the Lincolnshire public, MPs and MEPs. Now, we just need to get that message across to Defra.
"They didn't think anything that we put to them in our application was relevant. I don't think they wanted to give us the PGI status and I don't think they've treated us very fairly. It's all about financial clout.
"I just don't think they realise the difference between the sausages made here and those masquerading as Lincolnshire sausages."
In a statement to the Echo, Defra's food and farming minister David Heath said: "We fully support protecting the local heritage of certain foods through PGI status, but to be eligible, products must have an enduring link with a specific area.
"The evidence provided by the LSA did not demonstrate this and the new information provided in its appeal has not persuaded us to change our decision to reject the application.
"We remain open to looking at other options which would allow producers in Lincolnshire to highlight the traditional and local nature of their sausages."
This year's sausage festival will also feature live music, entertainment and cookery demonstrations from TV chef Rachel Green.
Rachel is considered a national expert on sausages and recently appeared on Channel 4 in Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket, a series which investigated the ethics of food manufacture in the UK.
Rachel was brought in to help develop and improve a mass-produced sausage for the programme.
"I absolutely love sausages," she said. "If you make sure you buy good quality ones, you couldn't wish for a better convenience food. I'm really proud to be waving the flag for Lincolnshire sausages.
"Next Saturday, I'll be cooking a variety of sausage recipes including Sausages Braised with Cider, Apples and Mustard, Sausages Cooked in Bateman's Beer and Lincolnshire Sausages with Red Wine Spelt Risotto."
The festival will be opened by Mayor of Louth, Jill Makinson-Sanders, who was headline news nationally this summer when she greeted the Olympic Torch in a sausage costume.