Have you thought about selling your cheeses? Is it time to test your delicious creations out in the commercial market?
While most home cheese makers find making cheese for their family and friends enough of a thrill, some cheese making hobbyists decide to take things to the next level, and start thinking about selling their cheeses at markets or, if possible, in local stores.
If you’ve ever thought about taking this next step, you’ll know that there are quite a few things to consider before you can branch out. There’s the purchasing of supplies, tools and equipment, planning how to increase production levels, extra costs and finding ways to market your cheeses.
And then there’s the regulatory matters.
Food safety is a pretty tightly controlled process in most countries, and it is becoming more and more difficult to just peddle your wares at the local farmers market. I know that in the country I live in, they are pushing through a new set of regulations that mean even a little old lady wanting to simply sell a few jars of jam at her grandchild’s school fundraiser, can end up in more trouble than she ever expected.
It’s got kind of ridiculous in my opinion, and artisan cheese certainly hasn’t escaped the red tape either.
In fact regulations for selling cheese have been around for a long time, and in some countries they are particularly rigid if you are using raw milk to make your cheese.
In a bid to ‘prevent dangerous bacteria being consumed and causing illness’ certain countries have specifications that raw milk must either go through a pasteurization process before being used for cheese making, or the final cheese product needs to be aged for a certain period of time before it can be sold as a ‘food safe’ product.
The key to avoiding any unnecessary fines or negative exposure once you are ready to sell your cheese, is to know what these periods are so that you can comply.
In New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada the required aging period is 60 days or more. Mind you, this period has been tabled for review multiple times in some of these countries, so it would be wise to check with your local authorities before you venture down the path of selling your cheese, to see if any changes have been made.
In many European countries the compulsory aging rules on raw cheeses are a lot looser, if not completely absent, due to long standing traditions of raw milk cheese production and consumption. There are some areas which enforce certain regulations, but no where near as stringent as the countries mentioned earlier. Again, if you want to sell your cheese, make sure you know which rules you need to adhere to, if any.
So, if you are considering selling your cheeses, take the time to inquire about the local food safety rules for your country. It’s not worth the risk of hoping things will be fine and finding out you’ve breached regulations, when most food safety agencies are more than happy to provide you with the information you need.
Do you have any questions or comments about selling cheese? Are you already selling your cheeses? Be sure to let us all know where we can find you.
There just might be other Curd-Nerds in your area who are keen to support you. Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you!