In a great victory for Normandy’s small-scale cheese producers, the region’s camembert AOC (controlled term of origin) will continue to be required to be made from unpasteurized milk, despite a campaign from their industrial counterparts to drop this ruling.
The decision, to be made official during the reform of this controlled term of origin over the next few months, represents a victory for supporters of local food production against industrial food brands.
In February, members of the Association for the Defense and Management of Normandy Camembert, a new organization created to resolve the question surrounding this law, ‘voted with 55% in favor of maintaining raw-milk as obligatory in the production of camembert AOC’.
Following the vote, a Board of Inquiry from the National Institute of Origins and Quality (INAO), an organization that works to protect the AOC principals, issued their ruling which will be presented at the plenary assembly of the National Denomination Committee in Paris in the first half of the year.
The war on camembert erupted in March 2007 when Latalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mère, the two companies responsible for more than 80% of the production of camembert AOC, announced that they would opt out of the denomination for some of their products after they failed to gain authorization to stop using raw milk.
Meanwhile, a group formed in April 2007 to protect the true Normandy camembert – the Committee for the Defense of True Camembert – collected more than 1000 signatures ‘ to save France’s most popular product around the world’.
According to Francis Rouchard, secretary general of the committee, ‘the war has damaged all producers. It is suicide for the sector. Now we must rebuild it’. However, Rouchard was brightened by this step forward, which will bring positive consequences for all raw milk cheesemakers.