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China lifts ban on stinky cheese


China lifts ban on stinky cheese

Image copyright AFP

China has reversed an import ban on several types of soft and mould-ripened cheese, including Roquefort, Danish Blue, Gorgonzola and Stilton.

The authorities imposed the ban in September because the strains of bacteria used to make the cheeses weren't approved in China.

Quarantine officials lifted the ban over the weekend after a meeting with European Union officials.

Imports of the temporarily-banned cheeses can resume immediately.

The EU Delegation and the French Embassy will organise a technical seminar between European and Chinese experts to help update standards, in an effort to avoid future bans.

No longer cheesed off

China's cheesemongers rejoiced at the news.

"We are very happy about the decision. I think it's a way for China to show they're really open-minded to selling foreign products and especially cheese," said Vincent Marion, the co-founder of Cheese Republic.

The online delivery service, based in Shanghai, specialises in artisan cheeses, and the ban affected more than half of the products the company sold.

It will be several weeks before more previously-banned cheese makes its way through the supply chain to Chinese retailers.

Cheeses please

The research firm Euromonitor expects cheese sales in China to reach 5.3bn yuan (£620m; $800m) this year, up 26% from last year.

More than 90% of it is imported, with most coming from New Zealand and Australia.

Cheese has also grown in popularity through fast food and pizza restaurants.

Mr Marion said his company caters mostly to foreigners, but there is also a growing local market for specialist cheeses.

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