Five businesses were looking to raise money to pay for a judicial review of new Guidance they saw will ‘regulate Scottish raw milk cheese out of existence’.
Scottish cheesemakers have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money 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.
Five artisan raw milk cheesemakers - Errington Cheese, Isle of Mull Cheese, Galloway Farmhouse Cheese, Cambus O’May Cheese Co. and Finlay’s Farm have launched a £15,000 campaign on Crowdjustice, a platform specialising in raising money to support legal action.
The campaign has already raised over £2,500.
The businesses believe the guidance, published in December, at present ‘does not reflect, and is contrary to, agreed EU industry guidance and established best practice’ and they are concerned it will effectively make raw milk cheese production in Scotland unviable.
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.
They have a fixed three month window within which to initiate a judicial review, closing on March 21.
Selina Cairns of Errington Cheese said it was with ‘immense frustration’ they had to once again 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 cannot wait any longer,” she said.
“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.”