France breathes sigh of relief as China reopens borders to pungent cheeses

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France breathes sigh of relief as China reopens borders to pungent cheeses
Restaurant manager Axel Moreaux shows his last remaining Camembert cheese at Paradox restaurant in Beijing in September. Photo: AFP

China has reopened its doors to smelly French cheeses like Brie, Camembert and Roquefort after a two-month block on imports.


Chinese customs have started allowing soft rind and marbled cheeses to be imported into the country after a block on the smelly dairy products was initiated in early September. 
The block was put down to safety concerns over the bacteria used to produce the cheeses.  
And the move came much to the annoyance of foreign business owners in Beijing who told AFP at the time that they had not been able to get cheese orders through customs for several weeks.
But the situation was diffused after a meeting was held between European Union representatives and Chinese health authorities which has led to imports being given the go ahead once more, said the spokesperson for the EU delegation in Beijing, William Fingleton, according to a report in Le Parisien
China's President Xi Jinping (C) and Xi's wife Peng Liyuan (L) tuck into cheese fondue. Photo: AFP
The meeting prompted the Chinese government to send a note to safety authorities explaining the situation. 
"From now on, it is written in black and white that this category of cheese is legally importable. So, it's very positive for the French and European dairy industry, because it's for the long term," said Vincent Marion, co-founder of Cheese Republic, an online cheese company in China. 
Dairy products are not a typical part of a Chinese diet, but in recent years cheeses such as mozzarella have become popular as more Chinese hanker after Western dishes such as pizza.
And although the block came as a surprise, this wasn't the first time a country had banned French cheeses. 
And during the same year, French ex-president François Hollande persuaded the Brazilian authorities to lift a three-year-ban on Roquefort.
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Mimolette cheese. Photo: Sarah Nichols


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