Although China’s banning of moldy cheese this summer stirred up controversy reaching as far as Brussels, most Chinese people didn’t really care too much about the ban. No wonder: mold-ripened cheese makes up only a very small fraction of all dairy products imported to the country, so tiny that separate figures for these kinds of cheeses don’t even exist.
However, particularly hard hit by the ban was China’s stinky cheese loving expat community. If you are among those who have been desperately missing your camembert and roquefort, then have we got some good news for you: the ban has been lifted. Hooray!
The change is a direct result of officials from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine meeting with EU representatives over the weekend, the BBC reports. At the meeting, the European officials apparently managed to convince their Chinese counterparts that banning some cheeses because they “contain too much bacteria” isn’t really a sensible move.
While China never provided a thorough reasoning for the ban, according to CNN, the EU reasoned that there was, in fact, “no good reason for the ban, because China considers the same cheese safe if produced in China.”
The decision has been welcomed with cheers by local cheese sellers and expat foodies.
“All the cheeses will return in five to six weeks,” Shanghai-based company Cheese Republic rejoiced in an online post. “We already have Saint Nectaire and Roquefort!!!!”
Strangely, the push from the EU to lift the ban didn’t primarily serve European interests. The main cheese importers to China are New Zealand and Australia, who can now thank the EU for opening back up the Chinese cheese market for them again.
Even though cheeses such as roquefort, Danish blue, gorgonzola and stilton are back on the menu for now it is not clear whether China is finally putting its history of ridiculous cheese bans behind. Just three years ago a ludicrous ban on UK cheese also raised eyebrows.
It is also unclear why the government keeps messing with the Chinese cheese market, which is continuing to grow year by year. Earlier this year, research firm Euromonitor estimated that cheese sales in the Middle Kingdom would reach $800 million this year, up 26% from last year.
By Máté Mohos
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