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Abstract

"Typical products"» are foodstuffs belonging to a group of products which claim an organic link to a given territory, a particular history and a local community. Legal recognition and protection of their geographical origin require that the typical products comply with the new European regulations. Under these regulations, local producers must justify this link by defining their products and working out trial and control procedures. In this process, sensory assessment is a driving factor in constructing the product's typicality. It engages specific human resources such as the assessors'senses in a procedure that is neither hedonistic (acceptability for the consumer), nor able to delegated to outside experts (conformity with a standard). What the assessors must decide is whether a candidate product can be included in a given type by assessing its faithfulness to the type's memory. With this objective in mind, how is the typicality trial to be designed ? We show that the setting for the trial is necessarily of a composite nature. The criteria to be used as well as the consideration of their different modalities mobilise several forms of knowledge that are distributed throughout the local community (producers, connoisseurs and product mediators). Jn these settings the memory linked to the product is activated and transmitted. The decision to include or not a product in the type to which it claims to belong incorporates the innate variety of a typical product, i.e. "cru" types, seasons or years, as admissible concrete expression of the type. Judging the typicality of a product thus becomes a deliberation process among the different parties in the setting in order to reach a consensual decision. The fact of engaging these specific human competencies in the typicality trial is a form of normalisation of the product. The new properties enable the typical products to be recognised as such outside their geographical area of origin, without however despoiling them of their originality.

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