2 Sep 2009

Production of raw milk cheese allowed in NZ

9:02 pm on 2 September 2009

The Government has cleared the way for cheese to made from raw or unpasteurised milk in New Zealand.

The production of raw milk cheeses has previously been banned, although a small range is imported.

Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson says the change will give New Zealand cheesemakers the chance to produce raw milk cheeses to rival the best in Europe.

Ms Wilkinson says it makes sense that the domestic industry should be able to make products that are allowed to be imported.

Bacteria levels in raw milk cheeses means they are not suitable for pregnant women, young children and the elderly.

The Food Safety Authority says it is proposing a high benchmark of controls over the process to produce raw milk cheeses and safety will not be compromised.

Cheesemakers are welcoming the opportunity, but warn the product will be more expensive to reflect the extra cost involved.

The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association says its likely to take two years before cheesemakers are ready to use raw milk.