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US ban on French cheese to stay

Orange mimolette labelled ‘disgusting’ and ‘unfit as food’ as inspectors maintain ban

2 July 2013

AMERICAN food safety inspectors have stood by their ban on mimolette cheese being imported to the US, labelling it “disgusting, putrid and decomposing – and totally unfit as food”.

Inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration had halted a consignment of 1.5 tonnes of mimolette in March saying that the crust of the cheese was infected with mites which could cause allergic reactions.

The Isigny Sainte-Mère Normandy cheese cooperative sold 60 tonnes of the orange cheese to the US last year and said that the mites were no danger to humans and that no study had shown they could cause allergies. It said this was especially true because people cut off the rind and did not eat it.

Cheeselovers in the US set up their own Facebook page to defend mimolette and the newspaper Washington Times called it an “imaginary scare” because “as every bureaucrat knows, if there is no problem, you have to invent one”.

FDA officials said there is no official ban but it has an official maximum level for mites of just six per square inch – which Isigny’s US manager Benoît de Vitton says it has no chance of meeting. The 1.5tonne consignment will have to be destroyed.

He said they have to look at taking the crust off the cheeses and covering them in wax. This would cut up to 15% off the cheese weight – and affect the price, with the in-demand cheese already selling for €80 per kilo.

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