Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee (SFELC) met with the Specialist Cheesemaker’s Association (SCA) recently (6 March 2019) to discuss the concerns raised by some of the SCA’s members regarding guidance for Environmental Health Officers on the production of cheese made from raw (unpasteurised) milk in Scotland.
The SCA represents raw milk cheese producers in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, including Galloway Farmhouse Cheese, Errington Cheese, Finlay’s Farm, St Andrews Farmhouse, Cambus O’May Cheese Company and Loch Arthur, who were also present at the meeting, together with representatives from Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society.
The guidance was produced by Environmental Health Officers with significant experience in the application of food law for their local authority counterparts across Scotland. Feedback from industry representatives and local authorities, who were invited to participate in a consultation at the early stages of development of the guidance, has been incorporated into the guidance, which was published in December 2018.
During the meeting, the cheesemakers made a number of proposals for changes to the guidance and it was agreed that those would be collated by the SCA and fed back separately to FSS and SFELC. FSS and SFELC agreed that it will be possible to make some of these changes quickly and that they would continue to review the guidance, in light of input from the SCA and its members, prior to its finalisation in December 2019.
The meeting noted the support available to Environmental Health Officers in their interpretation of the guidance and the need to refer issues arising in the course of implementation, in order to ensure consistency of application.
Whilst there remain some differences of views, all parties to the meeting wish to state that they will continue to work together to resolve those, and share the same aims: to ensure food being produced in Scotland is of the highest quality, and to produce safe food through robust but proportionate regulation.