France has had its own mechanisms for protecting regional food for many years, with the roots of its system stemming from 1411, when the production of Roquefort was regulated by parliament. There have been several stages in the development of this protection in France, with the modern system introduced in 1919. It was primarily applied to wine, but in 1990 was extended to cover other food products.
A unified EU system for protecting food was introduced in 1993. For nearly twenty years the two systems ran concurrently with each other, with the AOC classification generally taking precedence on labels, but more recently the French system has begun to be phased out.
As with all other countries in the EU, there are three types of European protection available for foods or agricultural products. Under EU law, wines have their own scheme and are classified separately to other drinks and foodstuffs, although wines still carry the same PDO/PGI labels.
Number of protected foods: 221