Food Standards Scotland has again come under fire for its approach to raw milk cheese from a producer that cited it as part of the reason it will close next year.
Barwheys Dairy will shut in spring 2019 after 10 years of operation.
It comes as Errington Cheese has started to reproduce and sell Dunsyre Blue – the raw milk cheese linked to a 2016 E. coli O157 outbreak in Scotland. A finding the company has always denied.
Tricia Bay, of Barwheys Dairy, said the world of micro-artisans food businesses was “tough” and it was “simply too small” to resist the increasing pressures that the industry is facing.
“Like other small businesses we have been subjected to increasing financial pressures in terms of costs, pricing, demand, and payments. These make it difficult for a micro-business to be sustainable,” she said in a statement on the company’s Facebook page.
Bay said on top of the financial pressures and usual challenges of farming, FSS is proposing “increasingly invasive and onerous” inspection and testing regimes.
“Despite the pronouncements of the Scottish Government on the importance of the Scottish food industry, the attitude of their agent FSS makes us feel that we are being irresponsibly stubborn in wanting to continue making a high-quality, traditional raw milk cheese. This has taken all the joy out of our previously happy enterprise.”
Production has been stopped and cows will be sold, possibly to Errington Cheese.
FSS responded with its position on the artisan food sector in the country.
“Food Standards Scotland has no hidden agenda or vendetta against cheese made from unpasteurized milk, artisan producers or particular businesses. Artisan foods make an important contribution to Scotland’s worldwide reputation for high-quality food and drink.”
Errington Cheese held an open day at its facilities last weekend to mark Great British Cheese day. It gave attendees the chance to taste the first batch of Dunsyre Blue made with raw organic milk sourced from a supplier, Mossgiel Farm.
The company is seeking compensation from South Lanarkshire Council after winning a legal battle earlier this year. It was cleared of breaching food safety laws in a case that looked at sheep’s milk cheese called Corra Linn and Lanark Blue that was seized by the council last year. It did not cover Dunsyre Blue.
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