Hundreds of thousands of pounds of cheese exports are being delayed by DEFRA red tape following the foot and mouth outbreak, according to one leading manufacturer.

Martin Harris, sales manager at Long Clawson Dairy in Leicestershire, said thousands of cases of Stilton and other cheeses destined for the USA, could not be shipped.

‘Bloody ridiculous’

Mr Harris said DEFRA was now insisting that a health certificate be issued before the cheese left the UK, but the certificates were not being sent to vets to sign.

He said the delay was “bloody ridiculous”, especially as the firm’s customers in the  USA  were not asking for any special certificate.

Business lost permanently

If the certificates were issued soon the situation would not become serious, Mr Harris said, but after a week some of the cheese would have to be repacked.

And if customers ran out of cheese business could be lost permanently, he added. “Once you’ve lost it you won’t get it back.”

“Hundreds” of other companies that exported cheese, including Irish manufactures who ship to Europe via the UK, were facing the same problem, Mr Harris said.