Who moved the cheese?

How many countless tales of ecstatic cheese consumption have you been regaled with by friends returning from Europe? Australia and New Zealand are the only countries on the planet that don’t – can’t – make raw milk cheese…but maybe that is about to change.

If you were told of an organisation seeking approval for: “the use of a new processing aid (enzyme), maltotetraohydrolase, produced from a genetically modified Bacillus licheniformis containing a modified gene from Pseudomonas stutzeri.” Would you get remotely excited?

Even after you discovered that: “use of the enzyme delays the stalling of bakery products and extends the acceptable eating quality period”?

It’s hardly riveting stuff, especially as its language practically spells a done deal… a fait accomplis. There were seven of these tedious types of assessments in this week’s Food Standards Australia missive on proposed changes to food laws. Most of them were associated with the recommended passing of something to do with herbicide/drought/insect tolerant GM crops.

But the last item, buried at the bottom, was notice of the assessment for: “Primary production and processing requirements for raw milk products (Australia only)”. This was the interesting one.

Basically this is the hoary raw milk cheese argument that has been rattling around for more than a decade. Although this assessment of ‘raw milk products’ doesn’t specifically identify cheese, it is proof that the raw milk cheese lobby has gained some traction and we can conceivably look forward to an influx of locally made raw milk cheeses.

It was big news in the culinary world when Roquefort cheese made from raw ewe’s milk since Roman times was given the nod to be allowed into Australia in September 2005.

As it stands, Australian made cheeses must be heat treated to destroy dangerous food pathogens like Listeria and E Coli.

So it’s about time there was a positive movement in this direction. Raw milk cheeses are staples in France and Italy – they are naturally full of flavour. Parmigiano Reggiano is traditionally made with raw milk – it’s the law in Italy.

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