Real Deal or No Deal? A Comparative Analysis of Raw Milk Cheese Regulation in Australia and France

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William van Caenegem
Madeline Elizabeth Taylor


Australia’s regulatory framework has resulted in the standardisation of cheese production based on pasteurisation. Up until early 2015, regulations effectively prohibited raw milk cheese-making in Australia and thus stifled artisanal on-farm production. Although the introduction of Food Standards Australia New Zealand Standard 4.2.4 has allowed the production of certain hard, low-moisture raw milk cheeses, the new standard is rigid and does not encourage new entrants into the emerging raw milk cheese consumer market. This article compares the Australian system with the French raw milk cheese regulation and production system, and argues that its approach in encouraging and supporting small farmhouse artisanal traditional raw milk cheese is beneficial to both producer and consumer, and has not resulted in any significant health risks. The Australian approach amounts to a missed opportunity to encourage the emergence of a value-added industry with local and export potential, and is at odds with important movements in food policy, such as recognition of the value of localism and terroir.

Article Details

Author Biographies

William van Caenegem, Bond University

Professor William van Caenegem is an intellectual property and comparative law scholar. He holds a degree in law from the University of Leuven (Belgium) and a PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK). He has written extensively on policy and doctrinal issues in intellectual property law. He is the author of a leading textbook on Intellectual Property law in Australia published by LexisNexis. He published a number of articles on Geographical Indications of Origin (GIs) and is co-author of a major report on GIs and rural development in Australia to be published by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). He has also published work on the potential of GIs to protect the cultural heritage of indigenous Australians. His recent work in food law relates to collective bargaining in agriculture and to the regulation of unpasteurised milk cheese production in Australia and other jurisdictions. He is also a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland and currently a Visiting Professor at the School of Business and Law, University of Gothenburg. He speaks Dutch, French and German.

Madeline Elizabeth Taylor, Bond University, Queensland, Australia.

Madeline Taylor (LLB Hons.) was awarded a federal Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship in 2012 in recognition of the importance of her doctoral work into food law, tenure security and unconventional gas law. She has garnered extensive research knowledge through her positions as Research Fellow at the Centre for Commercial Law at Bond University and the Centre for Coal Seam Gas at the University of Queensland. Her publishing experience includes 14 papers and reports on geographical indications in the wine industry, competition law in the food sector, and historical and contemporary analysis of agricultural policy in Australia and internationally. As Bond University's first Visiting Scholar at the University of British Columbia, she collaborated with agricultural academics and experts in the School of Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems. Her work in Canada is part of her doctoral studies focusing on farmers’ unions, agrarian citizenship for farmers, protection of farmland and agricultural policy. Taylor, along with her colleagues, has just recently completed a Rural Industry Development Corporation funded study into the importance of Collective Action in Australian agriculture as a vehicle to improve farmer bargaining power and farm gate returns in commercial food supply agreements.



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