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Minister calms blue over French cheese ban

Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has melted concerns Roquefort imports could be banned after French-cheese lovers kicked up a stink.

McKenzie used question time on Monday to reject suggestions her department could be weighing up a ban on the bold blue.

“Au contraire,” she told parliament.

“It is my pleasure to advise that the rumour is not true. My department is not looking to ban imports of Roquefort, the French king of blue-vein cheese.”

She said the government was merely carrying out a routine review of certification arrangements.

It is the second time the status of the cheese has been reviewed since an import ban was lifted in 2008.

McKenzie said Australia imported 30 tonnes of Roquefort in 2018, noting the review was the same as all foreign certification agreements.

“I’m very confident the trade will continue,” she said.

A potential end to Roquefort imports drew some high-profile critics, including former cabinet minister Christopher Pyne.

But the minister lightheartedly dismissed her former colleague – and self-described fixer – for raising a “non-issue”.

“He raises his concerns about people consuming the mould that creates the stinking blue green streaks in Roqeufort. The mould in question is actually penicillin,” McKenzie said.

“It’s not the mould that is the food safety risk of Roquefort cheese. It’s the raw milk that it’s made from, and untreated raw milk can grow listeria.

“It’s managed the risk so the ‘fixer’ can stand down.”

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