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Fact Sheet: the proposed amendment to cheese standards


What the proposed amendments to the cheese standards will do according to CFIA.

According to CFIA, the proposed amendments to the cheese standards will:

  • Modernize Canada’s cheese standards,
  • Support the long-term growth of the dairy sector,
  • Result in the further harmonization of federal regulations,
  • Clarify which ingredients may be used to manufacture cheese,
  • Provide for the consumer interest in having predictable choice in their cheese purchases,
  • Allow for industry innovation.

The market for cheese is growing
Cheese is a growing category in the dairy sector in Canada. Ensuring a degree of consistency between various companies making the same variety of cheese will reinforce consumer confidence and support continued growth in the cheese market.

Consumer interest
Food standards describe the basic requirements so consumers can be sure the cheese varieties they buy have uniform composition and nutritive value. Cheese standards include composition, fat and moisture content as well as essential ingredients and permitted additives so that all products bearing a particular name possess the same essential characteristics, irrespective of where they are purchased or by whom they are manufactured or distributed . This ensures that cheeses meet consumer expectations in terms of taste, texture, flavour and nutritive value.

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web-cookieStandards around the world
Most countries have regulated standards for cheese. CFIA has reviewed them as part of the process to update the current regulations.

Some examples of other countries’ standards can be found on www.RealCheese.ca .

Resolving current ambiguity
Until these amendments come into force, there are two different federal regulations that govern the making of cheese in Canada. The two regulations were inconsistent and lead to ambiguity in the interpretation of just what is allowed in cheese. Left unresolved, this situation could have resulted in products bearing the same name but having increasingly different characteristics.

Modernizing Regulations
CFIA says the Food and Drug Regulations were outdated as they did not take into account that new milk components have been developed in recent years and used by some cheesemakers. While some cheese manufacturers have asserted a number of these milk components have functional characteristics, there needs to be a limit in their use because they do not have all the same characteristics as milk itself. Limiting the amount of these components in cheese will help ensure consumers that one cheese of a certain variety (Cheddar) is similar to another cheese of the same variety.

Besides specifying the percentage of moisture and milk fat contained in each type or category of cheese, the proposed amendment to cheese standards now specifies the amount of protein coming from milk as opposed to other milk components.

With the exception of the new standard for Pizza Mozzarella cheese, the proposed Canadian standards for cheese are similar to those of France, which were updated in 2006.

Categories of cheese according to new standard
There are over 300 different cheeses in Canada, made by over 150 cheesemakers. These cheeses fall within one of the four categories identified in the proposed amendment, as simplified below

– Traditional Cheddar
A – Pizza Mozzarella cheese
B – Cheddar, Cheddar types, Mozzarella and other cheeses
C – Fine and Standardized Cheeses

Some details on each category
Traditional Cheddar
To be advertised or labelled as “traditional Cheddar”, the cheese must be made only with milk (including partly skimmed milk, skimmed milk and cream) and in accordance with the traditional “cheddarization” process.

This new definition for traditional Cheddar can be likened to definitions for cheeses with protected designation of origin (appellation contrôlées) in European countries.

Category A: Pizza Mozzarella cheese
A minimum of 63% of the total protein in cheese must be casein that comes from fluid milk (whole milk, partly skimmed, skimmed milk or cream). The rest of the protein can come from various other milk ingredients.

This new category provides significant flexibility to formulate cheeses that meet the needs of pizza manufacturer sector, while assuring there is a basic amount of fluid milk.

Category B – Cheddar, Mozzarella and other cheeses
A minimum of 83% of the protein in cheese must be casein coming from fluid milk (whole milk, partly skimmed, skimmed milk or cream). The rest can come from other milk ingredients.

A partial list of the cheeses in this category:
Cheddar, Mozzarella, Brick cheese, Canadian Style Brick cheese, Canadian Style Munster cheese, Colby cheese, Farmer’s cheese, Jack cheese, Monterey (Monterey Jack) cheese, Mozzarella (Scamorza) cheese, Part Skim Mozzarella (Part Skim Scamorza) cheese, Part Skim Pizza cheese, Pizza cheese and any other variety of cheese not referred to in clause (category) A or C.

Category C – Standardized cheeses
A minimum of 95% of the protein in cheese must be casein coming from fluid milk (whole milk, partly skimmed, skimmed milk or cream). The rest can come from other milk ingredients.

The following cheeses are included in this category:
Asiago Baby Edam, Edam
Gouda, Baby Gouda Blue
Butter (Butterkäse) Bra
Brie Caciocavallo
Camembert (Carré de l’est) Danbo
Elbo Emmentaler (Emmental, Swiss)
Esrom Feta
Fontina Fynbo
Gournay Gruyère
Havarti Kasseri
Limburger Maribo
Montasio Neufchâtel
Parmesan Provolone
Romano (Sardo) St. Jorge
Saint-Paulin
Samsoë
Tilsiter (Tilsit) Tybo

Impact on Cheese Prices
For most cheeses, there should be no cost impact on consumers.

Imports
The same amount of cheese will continue to be imported into Canada.

Opportunities
The new amendment to regulations now officially recognizes the use of some milk components that have been developed in the last 10-15 years, for use in the making of cheese. While the legitimacy of using these components was debatable, they are now clearly allowed for but with a certain limit to maintain the characteristics associated with particular cheese varieties, which consumers are seeking.

New opportunities for whey are developing and cheesemakers are in a position to take advantage of these. Since January 2006, whey prices have doubled and are currently at record levels. This is an opportune time to market new whey products.