Cheese in which growth of Listeria monocytogenes can occur

​​Refer to Imported Food Notice 04-17​ for details on recent updates to this web page.

Reference CHE 03-2017.

Biosecurity requirements

All imported food must comply with Australia’s biosecurity import conditions. Check the Biosecurity Import Conditions database (BICON) to determine if the food you intend to import requires an import permit or a treatment or if it must meet any other conditions. All biosecurity requirements must be met before the Imported Food Control Act 1992 requirements apply.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme risk food

Cheese in which the growth of Listeria monocytogenes can occur is classified as risk food.

The following Community Protection question (CP question) (CPQ 547) applies to cheese lodged under relevant tariff codes:

IFIS: ARE THE GOODS CHEESE IN WHICH GROWTH OF LISTERIA MONOCYTOGENES CAN OCCUR? SEARCH ‘CHEESE IN WHICH GROWTH CAN OCCUR’ AT WWW.AGRICULTURE.GOV.AU FOR MORE INFORMATION.

For the purposes of answering this CP question, cheese is NOT considered to be cheese in which growth of Listeria monocytogenes can occur if it meets one or more of the following parameters:

  • the cheese has a pH less than 4.4 regardless of water activity, or
  • the cheese has a water activity less than 0.92 regardless of pH, or
  • the cheese has a pH less than 5.0 in combination with a water activity of less than 0.94, or
  • the cheese is not frozen and has a refrigerated shelf life not greater than 5 days (from date of manufacture to the use-by date on the label of the cheese); or
  • it can be validated that the level of Listeria monocytogenes will not increase by greater than 0.5 log cfu/g over the stated shelf life of the cheese.

In addition, cheese is NOT considered to be cheese in which growth of Listeria monocytogenes can occur if it meets the following parameters:

  • the cheese has a pH less than 5.0 in combination with a moisture content less than 39%.

The department will monitor the answers to this CP question. Consistent with the department’s minimum document requirements policy, the department expects that importers and brokers will maintain records of the information used to substantiate answers to lodgment questions. The department may require brokers and importers to present this information upon request for compliance or verification activities. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. 

NOTE: Raw milk cheese is a risk food described in RMC 05-2016. This includes Roquefort.

Analysis

The samples will be analysed for:

  • Listeria monocytogenes

Clearance

This food will be cleared where:

Listeria monocytogenes
n = 5, c = 0, m = not detected in 25g,

where:
n = the minimum number of sample units which must be examined from a lot of food,
c = the maximum allowable number of defective sample units,
m = the acceptable microbiological level in a sample unit.

Imports from New Zealand

Imports of this food from New Zealand will not be inspected or analysed under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme. This is because Australia and New Zealand have agreed to mutual recognition for the food safety controls for this food.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) advice on imported food

FSANZ provides advice to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on whether foods pose a medium or high risk to public health. The risk statements supporting the advice is published on the FSANZ website.

Version history

DateAmendment details
08/03/2017CHE 03-17Amends guidance to industry on lodging entries.
21/07/2016CHE 07-2016Clarified parameters for cheese in which the growth of Listeria monocytogenes will not occur. Provided guidance to industry on lodging entries for cheese in the Integrated Cargo System.
09/05/2016CHE 05-2016Changes the description of the food from ‘Soft, semi-soft and fresh cheese’ to ‘Cheese in which growth of Listeria monocytogenes can occur’.
Tests are no longer applied for E. coli and Salmonella.
01/05/2014CHE 05-2014Replaces Imported Food Notice 09/12 Tests applied to risk category foods
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