05 September 1997
US wants ban on unpasteurised soft cheese

THE US is to push for an international agreement banning trade in unpasteurised soft cheeses on the grounds they can cause food poisoning.

It will play its hand next month at a meeting in Washington of the food hygiene committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets international food standards.

It faces opposition from European dairy-exporting countries. Critics of the US action believe there is a hidden agenda. They believe the US is keen to avoid damage to its dairy industry from any association with a potential food scare.

The issue is due to return to the full Codex commission in 1999, allowing “equivalent” production techniques to pasteurisation. A compromise on cheese will be likely.

There are fears that Codex makes too many decisions behind closed doors. There are also complaints that its decision-making process is too slow at a time when food scares are driving rapid change in hygiene rules and controls in the European Union and the United States.

  • Financial Times 05/09/97 page 4