'Real Camembert' wins war against supermarket variety

12th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Small producers of France's creamy raw milk Camembert cheese said they had scored a victory against rivals.

   CAEN, France, March 12, 2008 - Small producers of France's creamy raw
milk Camembert cheese said Tuesday they had scored a victory against rivals
who hoped to sell their mass-produced variety using the same label.
   A government-run institute is set to rule in favour of traditional
Camembert producers, saying that Camembert made with pasteurised milk cannot
carry the coveted Appelation d'Origine Controllee (AOC) label.
   "We are relieved," said Thierry Graindorge, one of the small producers who
had led the battle to save the "real Camembert" from production using treated
   France's "Camembert war" erupted in March last year when two big producers
-- Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mere -- had switched to using treated milk for
some of their brands on the grounds that it is safer.
   Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mere had argued for dropping the requirement
that raw milk be used in the production of Camember to qualify for the AOC
   A Committee for the Defence of Authentic Camembert was created and last
month the group voted to "preserve the mandatory use of raw milk in the
production of AOC Camembert," said Graindorge.
   A commission of inquiry was set up by the National Institute for Quality
and Certificates of Origin (INAO) which decides what qualifies for AOC status
in France.
   The INAO is expected to back the committee's call for the defence of
traditional cheesemaking in a ruling to be made public in the coming months,
according to several producers.
   For cheese-lovers, the difference between a genuine "lait cru" Camembert
produced in France's northwest Normandy region and the common supermarket variety made with pasteurised milk is like the difference between vintage wine and a mass-produced plonk.
   But production of the traditional brand is considered more costly because
it involves many health and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of bacteria
such as listeria.


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