The Traditional Specialty Guaranteed – TSG, a Guarantee of Quality Linked to Tradition

A TSG is an agricultural product with a traditional composition, or produced according to a traditional production method.

This encourages the diversification of agricultural production and has positive consequences in several areas. The introduction of a TSG boosts farmers’ revenues and maintains the population in less favorable or remote areas by promoting the rural economy. It also increases the market value of the products of economic operators, by guaranteeing that they are distinguishable from other similar products or foodstuffs.

The TSG label is different from the other kind of European quality designations because it does not require the product to be produced in a specific area, but it asks the producer to respect a method of production or a recipe. As a consequence, a TSG can be produced anywhere in Europe and receive the TSG designation as far as it respects the specification.

Bouchot Mussels from Bay of Mont Saint-Michel ©Cheick.Saidou/Min.Agri.Fr

Bouchot Mussels from Bay of Mont Saint-Michel ©Cheick.Saidou/Min.Agri.Fr

The French “Bouchot Mussels”: an Example of TSG product

In May 2013, the “Bouchot Mussels” were the first French product to obtain the TSG designation, because of the way they are produced. A “bouchot” is a wood column fixed in the sand of a shore on which mussels are bred. This particular method of breeding was developed in 1235 by an Irish sailor grounded on the French coast.

It takes one year to produce “Bouchot Mussels.” In early spring, mussels give birth to spats; producers set cords horizontally in the foreshore, so that the spats can easily fix themselves. During spring and summer the spats grow. Then, in September, cords are wound around the bouchots on the shore at a minimum of 30cm above the sand. The bouchots are also enveloped by nets. This technique prevents mussels from invasive crabs and sand; it ensures that the shell will develop to be smooth, regular and dark.

To receive the TSG label, only two species of mussels can be bred: either Mytilus edulis or Mytilus galloprovincialis. In 2011, 41,000 metric tons of bouchot mussels were produced.