A new ruling by the European Union, which aims to protect the integrity of regional culinary specialities and traditions, brings Provençal Thyme in line with other French products, including champagne, Niçoise olives, and Camembert cheese by providing it with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The herb can now only be sold under the name if production adheres to strict guidelines that follow traditional methods and if it is grown in designated areas in Provence.
Protecting France's Culinary Legacy
Thyme has long been considered one of the cornerstones of French seasonal blends, as well as a folk antibiotic and expectorant alternative. The decision to protect this special new strain of Thymus vulgaris was reached by the country's National Institute for Origin and Quality (INAO), originally set up in the 1930s to protect the status of French wines, with the aim of guaranteeing the reputation and quality of Provençal Thyme. Regions in which it can now legally be grown include parts of the Alpes-de-Haute Provence, Hautes Alpes, and Gard regions.
Not To Be Taken Lightly
People who attempt to defy this decree will feel the full force of the law; in France it is illegal to sell a product if it does not follow the criteria laid down by the INAO. Likewise, since PDOs are recognized by the European Union, they cannot be sold in any of the member countries. Similar rulings have been a resounding success in the past, offering consumers a guarantee of quality when buying protected products.