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Some like it raw

Comments are being sought on whether authorities should allow cheese to be made from raw milk in Australia.

At present, only cheese made with pasteurised milk can be sold. The importation of a few raw milk cheeses, such as parmesan and Roquefort, is permitted.

Debate over raw milk cheese has raged for some years. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has put out a discussion paper and is seeking comments.

The organisation is considering amendments to the Food Standards Code, which could increase the number and type of raw milk, or unpasteurised, products imported or made here.

A spokeswoman for FSANZ, Lydia Buchtmann, said the intent “is to make sure that these products are safe, while at the same time making the standards national and uniform … and getting rid of that inconsistency where you’re permitted to import raw milk cheeses but can’t necessarily make them locally”.

One of Australia’s strongest advocates for raw milk cheese, importer and host of pay TV’s Cheese Slices, Will Studd, has asked FSANZ to allow more of the products into the country and “bring Australian food standards into line with European food standards.”

“I want to be proud of Australian cheese internationally,” he said. “They [FSANZ] have been dragging their feet about this issue.

“There are anomalies in the current system — you’ve got exceptions for international cheese but the local producers are not allowed a choice.”

However, not everyone in the industry wants a change. Australian Specialist Cheesemakers Association president, David Brown, said when Victorian members were surveyed about raw milk cheese in 2002, “only 6% showed any enthusiasm … which means there was 94% that either didn’t care or didn’t want it”.

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