Campaign launched to support right to produce raw milk cheese

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th November 2009

Slow Food Australia has launched a public campaign to give Australian artisan cheesemakers the right to produce – and consumers to eat – Australian raw milk cheese.

Slow Food Australia is part of the international not-for-profit organisation founded in 1989 to ‘counteract fast food and fast life’, people’s dwindling interest the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes, and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.


Raw Milk Cheese project co-ordinator Michael Croft argues that cheese is becoming uniform due to restrictions on production.

“When skilfully made, ripening and maturing at its own pace, and developing flavours and textures of complexity and length, cheese retains the inherent qualities of the milk used in its making. It expresses diversity through seasonal and local characteristics, and the art of its maker, like no other food,” he said.

“Most of the Australian cheese we eat today is pasteurised, sanitised and uniform. For more than a generation, technology and science have been used to limit our choice of cheese. We cannot make and market Australian raw milk cheese. We cannot taste it. We are denied the experience of the unique characteristics of this primary food.”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand – the authority responsible for Australian food regulation – is to decide in 2011 if food standards are to be changed to enable the making and sale of Australian cheese from raw milk. The first report of a two-stage FSANZ raw milk product assessment process is to be released for public comment in December this year.

“Government regulates the food we eat. It is responsible for public health,” Mr Croft noted. “We call on government to guide our cheesemakers, not to harness them. We call on government to encourage diversity, build skills and knowledge, and return opportunity to Australia’s rural heartland.”

“…We already allow raw milk hard-curd cheeses from France and Italy to be imported into this country. Why should our burgeoning artisan cheesemakers be denied the right to make and market Australian cheese from our own raw milk?”

Slow Food Australia branches are distributing a petition at farmers’ markets, via associated interest groups and the Slow Food Australia website to draw attention to the issue.