Better start stuffing your face with as much brie, blue cheese, and other mold-ripened fromageries as possible, as China reportedly puts a temporary stop to their importation.
Allegedly in place since late July this year, news of the ban only started making its rounds on social media this week, as suppliers and cheese lovers moan the loss of camembert, roquefort, and goat cheese.
According to an August 28 letter sent by Western food distributor Sinodis to its customers, Chinese authorities said cheese products containing certain molds cannot be imported into the country temporarily. Separately, online cheese seller Cheese Republic announced in a WeChat post on September 7 that China is banning cheese with “too much bacteria,” and the rules are “national and impact all cheese resellers.” Sinodis has stopped importing these cheeses since August 23 (see below for what they can’t sell anymore), while Cheese Republic said they’ll stop selling them next week.
While the news has exasperated many in China’s expat community, mold-ripened cheese makes up a tiny fraction of the dairy products imported here. Separate figures for these kinds of cheeses don’t exist, unlike milk powder, which the Mainland brought in 965,000 tons of last year. Chinese media has also given the news a collective shrug at the time of this story’s publication, with no news reports on it and not a mention on Weibo.
Additionally, this is not the first time China has temporarily banned of certain cheeses. In 2014, the government halted the import of British cheese after finding faults with the hygiene standards of an unnamed major UK dairy. That dairy firm, however, did not export cheese to China, said the BBC.
Meanwhile, as stocks of high-end soft French cheeses run down (together with the Italian gorgonzola, which also made China’s black list), mozzarella is still available, together with hard French cheeses like comté, beaufort, and gruyère, and Spanish cheeses like manchego. For those hankering for something moldy, there’s always “Chinese cheese.”
Chevre Sainte Maure