Mouldy French icon storms Australian barricades

22nd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

SYDNEY, Sept 22 (AFP) - A smelly and mouldy French icon, Roquefort blue cheese, has successfully stormed Australia's anti-bacteria barricades and will be back on dinner tables from Friday.

SYDNEY, Sept 22 (AFP) - A smelly and mouldy French icon, Roquefort blue cheese, has successfully stormed Australia's anti-bacteria barricades and will be back on dinner tables from Friday.

The victory of the great Gallic delicacy after a 10-year ban will be celebrated with a Roquefort feast attended by French and Australian officials, a spokeswoman for the food standards authority told AFP.

Roquefort, which is made from raw sheep's milk and matured in limestone caves in southwest France, was banned because Australia's food standards require milk used in cheese production be heat-treated to prevent health risks from bacteria such as e.coli and lysteria.

However, raw milk cheeses may be sold if they are considered to have the same level of safety as pasteurised milk and the French government applied in 2003 for Roquefort cheese to be sold in Australia.

After a safety assessment -- including a trip by officials to France -- the authorities declared in March that the cheese "poses a low risk to the health and safety of consumers", but allowed six months for objections to be lodged.

Having won a clean bill of health from Australians -- apart from a warning that it should not be eaten by pregnant women because of the risk of lysteria -- the cheese will be gazetted as legal on Friday, the spokeswoman said.

French Trade Commissioner Jean-Louis Latour and Australia's parliamentary secretary for health Christopher Pyne will stage a symbolic feast of Roquefort at a cheese shop in Adelaide on Friday to mark its legality.

Asked where the cheese will come from, given that it has been banned for a decade, a source close to the event said: "We have found a stash."

Individual travellers had been allowed to bring in a small amount for their own consumption.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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