- The federal Department of Agriculture has confirmed it is conducting a review of the agreements between France and Australia over the import of Roquefort cheese.
- Broadcaster and cheese fanatic Will Studd raised the red flag of a potential ban of the cult blue cheese on social media.
- Roquefort was previously banned in Australia for a decade over concerns the cheese was susceptible to pathogens like e coli and listeria, before regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand lifted the banning order in 2008.
Considering a blue cheese — the King Island Roaring Forties Blue, to be precise — was crowned "grand champion" at the 2019 Australian Grand Diary Awards, it is little wonder that Australians would be nervous about a potential government crackdown on one of the world's most iconic blues.
Broadcaster and cheese fanatic Will Studd, host of Cheese Slices on SBS TV, sounded the alarm on Friday 12 July, tweeting that a potential ban of Roquefort cheese could be back on the cards pending an investigation by the federal food safety authorities.
Roquefort to be banned in Australia? The special exemption allowing the sale of Roquefort in Australia is currently being reviewed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to establish if it still meets ‘equivalent ‘ Australian Food Standards. pic.twitter.com/ZCGIbI7RHG
— Will Studd (@WillStudd) July 12, 2019
But to the great relief of Australia's blue cheese connoisseurs, the federal Department of Agriculture has now responded to Studd's tweet, explaining it is a routine review and there are no clear plans to ban the cheese.
Sacré bleu Roquefort ????fans! We're just making sure they still meet our food standards, no need to put out your cheese yet. To facilitate trade for Roquefort, the ???????? govt entered into a certification arrangement with ????????. This is just a standard review of the arrangements.
— Australian Department of Agriculture (@DeptAgNews) July 16, 2019
Roquefort was previously banned in Australia due to concerns that the unpasteurised sheep's milk cheese could be susceptible to dangerous pathogens like e coli and listeria, until a delegation from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand visited producers in the south of France to ensure compliance with Down Under regulations. The ban on Roquefort was subsequently lifted in 2008.
The New South Wales Government Good Authority continues to warn that "pregnant women or people with low or compromised immune systems" should not consume Roquefort, but otherwise the cheese is "not thought to represent a health risk".