China bans cheese imports from UK over hygiene standards

05 May 2014


All British cheese imports have been banned by China after its inspectors faulted one UK dairy for standards of hygiene.

The ban, imposed three days ago, led to outrage with one British MP demanding 'tit for tat' retaliation against Chinese food imports.

The cheese factory had not been identified, however, according to The Mail on Sunday, it did not even export cheese to China.

There was no evidence of the factory breaking any British regulations and last night George Eustice, farming minister, termed China's ban as 'disappointing'.

He added British cheese was the best in the world and produced to the highest safety and quality standards so it was disappointing that China had put a temporary block on cheese imports.

He added, food inspectors would now visit all factories exporting cheese to China to demonstrate their high standards so these restrictions could be lifted as soon as possible.

According to Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, who served as secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Cheese Group, the UK had one of the highest food production standards in the world as also the world's finest cheeses.

The Chinese officials were reportedly dissatisfied with maintenance and storage at one facility, as also with raw milk transport temperatures and air sanitisation there.

However, the dairy they visited did not export its produce to China.

The ban would apply to all cheese made after 1 May, which was also the date on which a new food safety law came into effect on the Chinese mainland.

Under the new inspection regime, overseas suppliers might be subject to checks, according to the BBC.

After Chinese officials found problems at one British dairy, they were now working with the UK's Food Standards Agency.

The FSA said it would however, carry out its own compliance checks and once the issue was cleared, the temporary suspension would be expected to be lifted.

The UK exports over 11 tonnes of cheese to China on an annual basis.

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