by SUSAN MANN
Canada’s agriculture minister says he’s pleased with the Supreme Court of Canada’s Thursday decision to reject an appeal by two cheese manufacturers challenging rules for cheese compositional standards.
“Canadian consumers will continue to have access to world-class cheese products made from ingredients of the highest quality,” says Gerry Ritz in a press release. The decision to turf the appeal upholds the federal government’s authority to set compositional standards, he states.
The Supreme Court’s website didn’t give a reason for its decision. The appeal was dismissed with costs.
The two processors, Saputo Inc. and Kraft, launched the appeal after the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed their challenge earlier this year of government amendments to the national cheese standards in the Food and Drug Regulations.
Dairy Farmers of Canada spokesperson Therese Beaulieu says by email dairy farmers have always supported the goal of protecting the integrity of Canadian cheeses so they live up to consumer expectations.
“DFC has welcomed standards that ensure consistency and integrity of all cheeses, which will serve to reinforce consumer confidence in Canadian cheeses and lead to growth in the dairy industry,” she says.
Despite processors saying cheese making in Canada would be threatened by the standards, Beaulieu says there have been several new cheeses created since the cheese standards have come into force.
Compositional standards for cheese outline basic requirements so these food products have a uniform composition and meet consumers’ expectations. The regulations list the minimum level of milk that must be used to produce various cheeses but also allow for other milk products, such as skim milk powder, whey, and milk protein concentrates.
Processors have said the regulations force them to buy more raw full fat milk to produce cheese by limiting the use of ingredients made from milk and that pushes up their production costs.
As part of the standards that came into effect Dec. 14, 2008, the government maintains a licensing system for cheese importers to facilitate the enforcement of regulations in a consistent and equitable way. The standards apply to cheese marketed in import, export or interprovincial trade. BF