The language transmits a whole culture, and gastronomy is a part of it.
In France each region has its own traditional dish. With such diversity, it is easy to understand that the gastronomy sector is a highly competitive one.
To protect the know-how and to legislate the production both inside and outside the borders, many quality Labels have then been put in place. This sometimes makes it challenging to figure out what to pick and choose when travelling around : AOC, Label Rouge, AB, etc.
Here is an overview of all the labels, what they mean and how to find it.
The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) (Controled Origin) is an official French label certifying that each stage of the production is carried out according to a same geographically - recognized-know-how.
Examples: Porto wine, Bordeaux, Burgundy, apples from Limousin, chestnuts from Ardèche, Fir honey from the Vosges, Salers beef in Auvergne, etc.
The Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) (Protected Origin) is the European equivalent of the AOC and it protects the name of a product in all EU countries (usually the geographical indication).
Examples: Olive oil from Nyons, feta, poultry from Bresse, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre goat cheese, etc.
L’indication Géographique Protégée (PGI) (Protected Geographical Indication) is also a European Label that protects the name throughout EU given to products throughout the EU. These products have all their characteristics are linked to a specific geographical location in which either at least the production or the processing takes place according to specific conditions (unlike the AOC to which the entire production is made in the same place).
Examples: the rice from Camargue, the prunes from Agen, the ham from Bayonne, Cotes de Gascogne, cider from Brittany, etc.
Superior Quality Label
The Label Rouge (Red Label) is a French Label which refers to a product with a higher quality level than other similar products due to its production or manufacturing conditions.
The agriculture biologique (AB) label (Organic farming) guaranties that the method of production is respectful of the environment and animal welfare. All rules governing organic productions are the same throughout Europe and all imported products are subject to the same requirements. Certified farms must meet some characteristics such as GMOs, fertilizers, synthetic chemical pesticides, recycling of organic matter, thermal and mechanical weeding, non-use.
The Restaurateurs de France label is an official label that promotes independent ristorantes. These restaurateurs must guaranty the quality of the French traditional cuisine and are audited by an independent organization every 4 years. They must meet 10 criteria in terms of quality of training, products, work and hospitality to be liable. This label is aimed to promote the French culinary heritage.
The Tables & Auberges de France label is a national label that promotes the quality and richness of the French Gastronomy certifying a professional expertise as well as the specificities of the profession. The leaders are approved by a Federation and are positioned according to four different types based on what is known as the “3 A” criteria (Welcoming, Plate, Neat Planning):
- Prestige Table : outstanding cuisine due to its exceptional quality
- Gastronomic table : cuisine with inventiveness and creativity
- Table deTerroir : regional cuisine made with traditional quality
- Table Bistrot Gourmand : cuisine that is highlights the country specialties.
(sourcing: ca.france.fr – infosredac – article : labels-gastronomiques-vignobles)