The case relates to 2008 standards that were introduced with the stated aim of ensuring that cheese products meet consumer expectations and interests. Other stated aims included greater harmonisation of federal regulations and greater consistency with international standards.
Specifically, the standards set certain minimum percentages for the use of casein content from liquid milks, as opposed to casein content from other milk products. They also required that the whey protein to casein ratio or “whey ratio” does not exceed the whey ratio of milk.
Kraft and Saputo objected to the standards, arguing that they really aim to penalise dairy processors.
Court documents state that the companies assert that the “essential or dominant purpose” of the regulation is “to effect an economic transfer in favour of dairy producers to the detriment of dairy processors by requiring the use of additional liquid milk in the production of cheese.”
Kraft and Saputo argued that the new rules have a substantial impact on milk supply costs for dairy processors.
However, Justice Robert Mainville at the Federal Court of Appeal found little substance in their arguments.
Mainville concluded that new technologies which reduce the use of liquid milk in cheese may affect taste, texture and smell. He therefore agreed with the initial judgment that the new compositional standards intend to protect consumers by ensuring that cheese has consistent composition and characteristics.
The judge also found it “abundantly clear” that the regulations sought greater consistency with international standards and described the argument that they did not aim to achieve greater harmonisation of federal regulations as “simply untenable”.
The Canadian government welcomed the verdict. Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said: “We are pleased that the Federal Court of Appeal has upheld the authority of the federal government to set compositional standards.
“Canadians expect cheese to be made of real milk and this decision will ensure it is. We are proud of our record standing up for consumers.”
Kraft and Saputo were not available for comment before deadline.