PDO, PGI and TSG certificates to explore yummy Spain.

If you are interested in tasting some of the most singular Spanish food products, then a good place to start is to look for a Protected Designation of Origin. 

P.D.O. does not only guarantee the geographical source of the food, but also the way it is processed. 

Protected Designation of Origin P.D.O. forms part of three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties, known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional specialty guaranteed (TSG). Those designations promote and protect the names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs.

Look for these certificates to recognize PDO, PGI and TSG products 

Logo protected designation of origin
Logo protected geographical indication
Logo traditional specialty guaranteed

What does Protected designation of Origin PDO mean?

The Protected designation of origin usually refers to the name of a specific area or region used as a designation for an agricultural product or a foodstuff. To receive the PDO status, the entire product must be traditionally and entirely manufactured (prepared, processed, and produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

What does Protected Geographical Indication PGI mean?

The Protected geographical indication refers to a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country used as a description of an agricultural product or a foodstuff. To receive the PGI status, the entire product must be traditionally and at least partially manufactured (prepared, processed, or produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

What does Traditional Specialty Guaranteed TSG mean?

Differing from PDO and PGI, this quality scheme does not certify that the protected food product has a link to specific geographical area. To qualify for a TSG a food must be of “specific character” and either its raw materials, production method or processing must be “traditional.”

 For a food name to be registrable under the TSG scheme it must (a) have been traditionally used to refer to the specific product; or (b) identify the traditional character or specific character of the product.

So, which one is your best reference.

While PDO guarantees absolutely every step in the creation of a product, the way it is raised, planted, fed, harvested, processed, and stored. PGI guarantees its origin and TSG the way that it´s prepared. I would prefer PDO, but would definitely explore PGI and TSG, since both offer to take us to a very specific destination. Be it geographical, or that of the tradition created with years and years of experience. 

How many PDOs and PGIs are there in Spain? 

There are 207 and 139 of them respectively. Of which 28 PDOs and 31 PGI certificates are in Andalusia. 

In this PDF you can consult all PDO and PGI references in Spain.

Some of the Top PDO and PGI certificates are those of wines like DOP Ribera del Duero and DOP la Rioja. Another must-have-heard of PDO is Jabugo Iberian ham and la Mancha Saffron. PGIs like those of mantecados de Estepa from Seville and Plátano de Canarias ( Canary islands bananas) 

As for TSG, for the time being, there are only four products with this distinction: 

  • Jamón Serrano ( serrano ham).
  •  Leche de granja. (Farm milk)
  • Panellets
  • Tortas de aceite de castilleja de la cuesta. 

Make sure to buy original prodcuts

Make sure you are buying your products from trusted sources, although nowadays it is a bit more complicated especially when buying online. 

Most if not all PDO, PGI, and TSG websites list the producers enrolled under the protected designation. If those producers have an online store then a safe option is to buy from their online shops directly. If you are buying locally, most delicatessen stores sell regional products, and in the main cities, you are likely to find each and every one of the products sold somewhere. 

Beware of sales and bargains. study the packaging and make sure it complies with the conditions applied to each certification.

Producers are proud of the quality these certificates guarantee and the added value to their products when sold under the umbrella of a PDO. hey usually know each other and fraud is relatively easy to detect in such a tight web. 

Jabugo Ham for 5€/Kg? Common sense prevails, and I wish you happy yummy shopping.