March 12, 2011

Saputo and Kraft vs. cheese: respect for Justice Robert Mainville

Cheese, it seems to me is something simple. Take a lait cru from Au Gré des Champs Le Péningouin, a very young delicious cheese. Ingredients? Lait Cru entier bio, présure, sel, cultures bactériennes. Ok, let us go a little further, say, Germany, Bergader, a Bavarian blue cheese. Ingredients? Solide de lait, présure, pennecilium roqueforti, culture bacterienne, sel. Simple, no? After that it is technique, temperature, time. Kraft singles? Well...

Cheese has standards and government regulations are there to protect them in a corporeal and legal sense. Business seems to work a little differently. Saputo recently is in the process of acquiring Fairmont Cheese Holdings for 270.5 million dollars. Big. For those out of the loop, Saputo is Canada's largest dairy processor and ranks 12th globally. No comment on Kraft aka is it edible?

Recently we have seen an attempt by Kraft Canada and Saputo to overturn Canadian government standards on the composition of cheese. It has been dismissed by Justice Robert Mainville of the Federal Court of Appeal. Kraft and Saputo objected to the standards, arguing that they really aim to penalize dairy processors. Court documents state that the companies assert that the “essential or dominant purpose” of the regulation is “to effect an economic transfer in favour of dairy producers to the detriment of dairy processors by requiring the use of additional liquid milk in the production of cheese.”

Mainville said that new technologies which reduce the use of liquid milk in cheese may affect taste, texture and smell. He agreed with the initial judgment that the new standards intend to protect consumers by ensuring that cheese, is well, just that, cheese. In this we must recognize what Justice Robert Mainville has done, with much respect. And as for greed, let us not forget that it too fights and threatens and thrives to overthrow the very things we cherish, and in this case the love of good honest cheese.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said: “Canadians expect cheese to be made of real milk and this decision will ensure it is. We are proud of our record standing up for consumers.”


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