A restrictive ruling on the definition of vodka could could trigger an international trade dispute, according to the European Commission's Agriculture Commissioner.

Mariann Fischer Boel said yesterday (24 October) that a restrictive definition of the raw ingredients permitted in vodka could lead to a trade row.

Countries including Poland, Finland and Sweden have been pressing the Commission into protecting vodka as a traditional spirit made only from grain or potatoes.

The Commission currently feels that vodka should be made from any raw material providing that product is displayed on the bottle.

Diageo, which owns the grape-based vodka brand Cîroc, has attacked the claims by the so-called 'vodka belt'. "Limiting vodka to a few raw materials betrays the rich and varied history of the product, and will also trigger confusion among shoppers and ultimately impede consumer choice," said Sarah McNeill, global director for the reserve brands group at Diageo.

"From a brand manager's perspective this would be all the more regrettable, given that it is a distinction that does not need to be made."