The humble Cumberland sausage could be transformed from old banger to high class sizzler after the UK government gave its support for the food to gain the same protection afforded to Champagne and Parma Ham.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has backed an application to register the Cumberland sausage as a protected food and a final decision will now be taken by the European Commission in Brussels.

The Cornish pasty was last month granted the same backing by the government and has already applied to the European Union’s Protected Food Name Scheme for status as a top regional or traditional food. The system is similar to the “appellation controlée” system used for wine.

Melton Mowbray pork pies already enjoy special status, while rhubarb growers in West Yorkshire have also applied.

If the EC approves the application, only sausage markers from the county will be allowed to call their products Traditional Cumberland Sausages, potentially boosting their sales.

The application also sets down strict criteria which the sausages would have to meet. These include having at least 80pc meat and being unlinked.

Celebrity chef Dave Myers, one of the ‘Hairy Bikers’, said: “If you go down south every body’s got it on the menu but it’s not Cumberland Sausage, it’s a washed out affair. It’s a great sausage and it deserves to be protected. We don’t want the fake ones. It’s a special brand, so let’s keep it right.”

Cumberland sausages have been a local speciality for 500 years. They traditionally involve more exotic spices that other sausages, reflecting the status of Whitehaven as Britain’s third largest port in the 18th century.

The five-year campaign to protect the food has been organised by Made in Cumbria and the Cumberland Sausage Association.

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