SA bans Irish cheddar

2011-11-08 00:00

IRISH cheddar cheese has reportedly been banned from entering the country after a consignment was seized by Durban Port Health on suspicion that it does not comply with South African health requirements.

It is not immediately clear where the cheese was going to be distributed.

The consignment, which was reportedly imported by a chain store, was discovered to contain E.coli bacteria during a routine inspection conducted by the port health authorities in early August.

Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said that during routine tests it was discovered that the cheese contains low quantities of the bacteria, too little to be harmful to humans.

Follow-up tests confirmed the analysis.

E.coli can be deadly in high enough concentrations.

In a customer newsletter the Milk Producers Organisation called for agricultural inspectors to investigate the matter.

The MPO has askedthe government not to allow Irish dairy imports to enter the country before their safety is confirmed.

The agriculture department has confirmed that the products will not be allowed to enter the country.

MPO chief executive Bertus de Jongh said the recent revelations are a sign that Irish suppliers either view the local cheese market as a dumping ground or are supplying local consumers with sub-standard products.

De Jongh said that such practices are destroying the local cheese market.

“The problem starts when the retailers purchase cheap imports and use those imports to force the prices of local producers down.

“We have had a lot of complaints from local producers as this is causing substantial damage.”

He said the MPO has raised concerns with the local and Irish authorities over the past year about the low-priced cheddar cheese imported from Ireland.

“We have on numerous occasions raised the concerns about the activities of Irish producers.

“We are now calling on consumers to be very careful of cheap imported cheese because it could be of low quality.”

thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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