Soft-cheese fans re­joic­ing af­ter China lifts Brie ban

The Nation - - WORLD BUSINESS -

FANS of soft cheeses in China have rea­son to cel­e­brate af­ter the coun­try re­versed a ban on mouldripened cheeses, al­low­ing im­ports of Camem­bert, Brie and Ro­que­fort.

From early Septem­ber, busi­nesses in the coun­try were for­bid­den from im­port­ing cheeses made with cer­tain moulds and bac­te­ria.

The ban was lifted fol­low­ing meet­ings last week be­tween Euro­pean Com­mis­sion rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Chi­nese quar­an­tine and health of­fi­cials, the EU’s China del­e­ga­tion said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

The Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion is­sued a note to cus­toms au­thor­i­ties clar­i­fy­ing that bac­te­rial cul­tures used for the pro­duc­tion of these cheeses were not harm­ful to con­sumers’ health, thus al­low­ing trade to re­sume, ac­cord­ing to the del­e­ga­tion.

The state­ment added that China’s cheese qual­ity stan­dards are “out­dated”, and the del­e­ga­tion and French em­bassy will or­gan­ise a sem­i­nar with Chi­nese ex­perts to “[ limit] the risk of such events re- oc­cur­ring in the fu­ture”.

Axel More­aux, man­ager at French res­tau­rant Para­dox in Bei­jing, cel­e­brated the news.

“The ban was in place for a short time, so it hasn’t af­fected our busi­ness. Now we can go ahead as nor­mal,” he told AFP.

“It’s a real re­lief,” said Vin­cent Mar­ion, co- founder of Cheese Repub­lic, one of China’s lead­ing on­line cheese­mon­gers.

“It is now writ­ten in black and white that this cat­e­gory of cheese is legally im­portable. So it is very pos­i­tive for the French and Euro­pean dairy in­dus­try,” Mar­ion said.

The Euro­pean Union Cham­ber of Com­merce in China pre­vi­ously said ef­forts were un­der­way to re­vise China’s na­tional food safety stan­dards for cheese.

Se­ries of food scan­dals

It is un­clear why the ban was put into place.

China has seen a se­ries of scan­dals over food safety but West­ern prod­ucts are widely seen as made to higher stan­dards.

Dairy prod­ucts are not a typ­i­cal part of a Chi­nese diet, but in re­cent years cheeses such as moz­zarella have be­come pop­u­lar as more Chi­nese han­ker af­ter West­ern dishes such as pizza.

Strongly flavoured mouldripened cheese is usu­ally only avail­able at restau­rants and mar­kets that cater to for­eign­ers.

Brie and other cheeses are dis­played in the kitchen of a res­tau­rant in Bei­jing. China has re­versed a ban on mould-ripened cheeses, al­low­ing im­ports of Camem­bert, Brie and Ro­que­fort.

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