The British government is backing an attempt by the town of Melton Mowbray to get protected geographic status for its famous pork pies, according to the BBC.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has put its weight behind a bid by pie enthusiasts from the town to get the European Commission to award the status, already enjoyed by Champagne and Parma ham, the broadcaster said.

A decision is expected from the European Commission by spring 2006. "Once you've got the national government behind you and since nobody else makes Melton Mowbray pies in Europe, there's no real interest from the others in terms of objecting," campaigner Matthew O'Callaghan said.

Stilton cheeses, which come from the same area as Melton Mowbray pies, are also on the list, although Cheddar cheese, named after a place in south western England, has been judged as too generic.

Other foods looking for protection from the European Commission are Cornish pasties, Cumberland sausages and Yorkshire rhubarb.