Galloway cheesemaker seeks financial support to fight new food regulations

Cheese making at Cream O' Galloway
Cheese making at Cream O' Galloway

A Galloway cheesemaker is among a group of five businesses appealing to the public for donations to a legal fund to take on the government.

Galloway Farmhouse Cheese has joined a group action against proposed new legislation on the use of raw milk cheese production which, they claim, could put them out of business and leave gourmets both in Scotland and abroad deprived of a favourite delicacy.

The local cheesemaker has joined Errington Cheese, Isle of Mull Cheese, Cambus O’May Cheese Co. and Finlay’s Farm Ltd – all specialists in the production of traditional, artisan cheeses - in appealing for an initial £15,000 to fight the legislation via Crowdjustice, a crowdfunding platform specialising in raising money to support legal action.

The businesses have issued a joint statement in which they claim the proposed regulations “do not reflect, and is contrary to, agreed EU industry guidance and established best practice.

And they are concerned that it will “effectively make raw milk cheese production in Scotland unviable.”.

The Guidance on the regulations was published in December and the businesses have written to Food Standards Scotland to request a suspension of the new rulesto enable changes to be made.

However to-date this request has been refused.

The businesses have a window within which to initiate a judicial review to prevent the regulations becoming law, that window closing on March 21.

Speaking for the group, Selina Cairns of Errington Cheese, said: “It is with immense frustration that we once again find ourselves having to initiate legal action in response to action by Food Standards Scotland.

“This new guidance for Scotland will effectively regulate Scottish raw milk cheese out of existence.

“EU legislation exists for the regulation of raw milk cheese and Guidance for cheesemakers and enforcement officers exists at EU level and is agreed with all 28 member states, and we are aware of no rationale for why Scotland’s guidance should deviate so significantly from EU guidance.

“We have repeatedly invited Food Standards Scotland, and the committee responsible for drafting this guidance, to work with the industry to amend it to satisfy both industry and food safety requirements, and of course to align it with the agreed EU legislation and guidance.

“We can’t wait any longer. The risk of not taking this action is that Scotland’s artisan unpasteurised cheesemakers will be effectively shut down, while unpasteurised cheese produced elsewhere, with less stringent regulation, will still be sold in Scotland.

“ This will put a number of long standing businesses at high risk of closure.”

The Crowdjustice campaign can be viewed at: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-farmhouse-cheese-producti/ and has so far raised £1,755.