Europe

French outrage after US deems its cheese 'filthy'

A cheesemonger holds a 24-month old mimolette cheese at a production site in Isigny-sur-Mere, north-western France, 4 July
Image caption The mimolette cheese seen here is produced in Isigny-sur-Mere, north-western France

Indignation is growing among cheese-lovers in France and the US after Washington branded a type of French cheese as unfit for human consumption.

The US government slapped an import ban on mimolette cheese at the end of May, leaving 1.5 tonnes of the item impounded at a warehouse.

American food inspectors object to the use of mites to refine its flavour.

A producer called the ban "absurd" while fans have launched social media campaigns such as "Save the mimolette".

According to the US food and drug administration, the cheese "appears to consist in whole or in part of a filthy, putrid or decomposed substance or be otherwise unfit for food".

"This is absurd," a mimolette producers' spokesman said. "Changing the production process would change the flavour. No one has ever got ill from eating our cheese."

However, French junior minister for food Guillaume Garot suggested this week that mimolette makers would have no choice if they wanted to export to the US.

"Our only concern is to work with French cheese-makers towards a new production process for aged mimolette destined for export," he said.

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