In a document published earlier this month, Rome-based international food standards authority Codex stated that it “may be appropriate” to make further efforts to determine whether the development of a revised international standard for processed cheese is “feasible.”
Work on the standard was scrapped in 2010 after Codex members failed to reach an agreement on the text, particularly with respect to minimum cheese content and the acceptability of gelatine, starches and stabilisers.
Following this, Codex prepared a Circular Letter asking its members to identify “gaps in the safety and quality provisions of Codex texts that would justify new work on processed cheese.”
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and the IDF replied to the letter.
Only Canada, Australia and the IDF voiced any opposition.
“Certain compositional aspects”
According to the Codex document, replies from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay indicate that the development of a new standard would “ensure that processed cheese products traded internationally respond to certain compositional aspects.”
“Based on the comments submitted to the Circular Letter and the discussion and conclusions of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committees, it appears that a number of countries in particular in Latin America and the Caribbean and Near East region, still consider feasible and necessary the development of a standard (or two),” said the document.
“Therefore, in the light of clear and continuing interest from a number of countries/regions in an international standard for processed cheese, it may be appropriate to make a further effort to determine whether its development is feasible by defining its scope and compositional aspects,” it added.
“No obvious gaps in the safety and quality provisions”
Meanwhile, Brussels-based IDF, which represents the global dairy sector, said in its reply to Codex that it “sees no obvious gaps in the safety and quality provisions of these texts that would justify new work on processed cheese.”
Australia issued a similar response, stating that it continued to support Codex’s earlier decision not to continue work on the standard.
“Australia considers that as these products are traded freely internationally, this confirms, in our view that there are no obvious gaps in the safety and quality provisions of these texts that would justify new work on processed cheese," said the country's reply.
In its correspondence with Codex, Canada added that it was unaware of “evidence of any significant problem in the international trade” of processed cheese products.
“Moreover, in our view, there are no gaps in the safety and quality provisions of processed cheese that would justify new work, either as a global or regional standard,” its said.