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Scottish cheesemakers launch legal action Crowdfunding campaign

Five Scottish cheesemakers have today launched a crowdjustice campaign to raise an initial £15,000 to pay for legal fees for the preparation and submission of a judicial review into the legality of new Guidance for the regulation of Scotland’s raw milk cheese production.

Crowdjustice is a crowdfunding platform specialising in raising money to support legal action. 

The five businesses - Errington Cheese, Isle of Mull Cheese, Galloway Farmhouse Cheese, Cambus O’May Cheese Co. and Finlay's Farm Ltd – all specialise in the production of traditional, artisan raw milk cheese.

The businesses believe that the Guidance as written at present ‘does 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 was published on 21st December 2018. The businesses have written to Food Standards Scotland to request a suspension of the new Guidance to enable changes to be made, however to date this request has been refused. 

The businesses have a fixed three month window within which to initiate a judicial review, with that window closing on 21st March 2019.

Selina Cairns of Errington Cheese commented: “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.

“To effectively remove specialist cheesemaking from Scotland would be an act of extraordinary self-harm to Scotland’s food heritage and to our nation’s growing reputation as a land of food and drink.”

he crowdjustice campaign was launched at 9am this morning (26 Feb) and can be viewed at: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-farmhouse-cheese-producti/

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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