Raw milk cheese (from 8 August 2018)

​Back to Tests applied to risk food

Refer to Imported Food for details on recent updates to this web page.

Reference RMC 07-2018

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

Raw milk cheese is cheese that has not undergone a heat treatment step during production. These are heat treatments such as pasteurisation, thermisation with additional measures or high temperature curd cook with additional measures. For the purposes of this description, the following definitions apply:

Pasteurisation means:

Milk or dairy products used to make cheese or cheese products have been pasteurised by:

  1. heating to a temperature of no less than 72° Celsius (C) and retaining at such temperature for no less than 15 seconds; or
  2. heating, using any other time and temperature combination of equivalent or greater lethal effect on any pathogenic microorganisms in the milk or dairy product; or
  3. using any other process that provides an equivalent or greater lethal effect on any pathogenic microorganisms.

Thermisation with additional measures means:

Milk used to make cheese or cheese products has been processed by being held at a temperature of no less than 64.5°C for a period of no less than 16 seconds, and the cheese or cheese product stored at a temperature of no less than 7°C for a period of no less than 90 days from the date of processing.

High temperature curd cook with additional measures means:

Milk or dairy products used to make cheese or cheese products have been processed such that:

  1. the curd is heated to a temperature of no less than 48°C; and
  2. the cheese or cheese product has a moisture content of less than 39%, after being stored at a temperature of no less than 10°C for a period of no less than 120 days from the date of processing.

[expand all]

Mandatory recognised government certification

The following food safety requirements apply to this risk food:

  • raw milk cheese must not support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms and have no net increase in pathogen levels during the manufacture of the cheese
  • milk used in manufacture of raw milk cheese must be from animals free from Brucellosis and Bovine tuberculosis in accordance with OIE Animal Health Code
  • the primary production, transport and processing requirements must meet those in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code Standard 4.2.4.

To ensure these food safety requirements are met, imports of raw milk cheese must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate. Imports will be subject to analysis as verification.

Only raw milk cheese identified below is permitted into Australia.

Roquefort cheese from France

Competent authority: Ministère de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation

Recognised certificate title: Sanitary Certificate to Export Roquefort from France to Australia.

The certificate must be accompanied by E. coli test results that are specific to Roquefort cheese in the consignment.

Document code for the ICS: SCER

This certification is also subject to a government certification arrangement under section 18 of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

Clearance

The table below provides the tests applied and permitted results for Roquefort cheese, where the cheese is covered by a consignment specific recognised government certificate and Escherichia coli test results accompanying the certificate reports results n = 5, c = 1, m = 10 cfu/g, M = 100cfu/g.

Hazard

Test applied

Permitted result

Microorganisms

Listeria monocytogenes

n = 5, c = 0, m = 100 cfu/g

Salmonella spp.

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

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 i.e. that have counts between ‘m’ and ‘M’.
m = the acceptable microbiological level in a sample unit.
* the department allows appointed analysts to composite the five cheese samples when the ‘not detected’ standard applies. This may result in reduced testing costs for importers.

Importers may request a review of a decision within the legislated timeframe for such reviews. If such a review requires re-sampling and re-analysis of samples then this will occur at the importer’s expense. A non-compliant result, on its own, is not justification for a review or re-analysis.

Cheese made from unpasteurised milk that has undergone a heat treatment step during production

Community Protection (CP) question

From 8 August 2018, the department will replace the existing CP question, to make it easier to determine if the cheese is permitted because it has undergone a heat treatment step during production, with:

‘IFIS: Is the cheese made from unpasteurised milk? If yes, complete the ‘Imported Food Inspection Scheme–importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’. Search ‘Importer declarations’ at www.agriculture.gov.au for more information.’

The department will monitor the answers to the 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 CP 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.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) Importer declaration

From 8 August 2018, the department will introduce a mandatory IFIS Importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk.

The ‘Imported Food Inspection Scheme-importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’ must accompany the goods, as it demonstrates that the cheese does not require government certification because it has undergone a heat treatment step during production. These are heat treatments such as thermisation with additional measures or high temperature curd cook with additional measures.

The ‘Imported Food Inspection Scheme–importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’ is available from the ‘Lodging declarations and documentation for imported food’ webpage.

The completed declaration is valid for a year from the date it is signed by the importer. Giving false or misleading information in an importer declaration is a serious offence.

NOTE: If the cheese is Roquefort cheese from France and meets the recognised certification requirements specified above, an ‘Imported Food Inspection Scheme–importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’ is not required.

Clearance

The table below provides the compliance requirements for cheese made from unpasteurised milk based on the answer combination to the new CP question.

CP question: ‘IFIS: Is the cheese made from unpasteurised milk? If yes, complete the ‘Imported Food Inspection Scheme–importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’. Search ‘Importer declarations’ at www.agriculture.gov.au for more information.’

Compliance requirements

Yes

The cheese will be considered to be a cheese that does not require government certification as:

  • it is an unpasteurised milk cheese; and
  • it is accompanied by an ‘Imported Food Inspection Scheme–importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’1

No

The cheese will be considered to be a cheese that does not require government certification as:

  • it is not made from unpasteurised milk.

1 If the cheese is not accompanied by an ‘Importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk’, it will fail, unless it is Roquefort cheese from France and meets the recognised certification requirements specified above.

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

Date

Amendment details

10/07/2018RMC 07-2018Updated to reflect the introduction of a mandatory IFIS Importer declaration for cheese made from unpasteurised milk.

9/05/2016

RMC 05-2016

New risk food

​​