Say goodbye to blue cheese and all of your other favorite stinky cheeses. China has just put a halt on “soft cheese” imports, releasing a notice to major importers and purchasers on August 23. Digging deeper, we found that, oddly, canned soup and baking powder are also on the list of banned food products.
Firstly, the cheese ban affects imports of mold-ripened cheese, “as the cultures are not on the allowed list issued by PRC health commission.” The news broke and went viral on social media platform WeChat last night, September 7. The article about the ban was published on e-shop Cheese Republic’s account (ID: CheeseRep) in the evening and had reached 13,000 by 9am the following morning.
The recent list of banned cheeses, procured through a notice sent out by importer/distributor Sinodis on August 28, lists 49 brands/varieties, mostly of French origin. It includes gorgonzola, camembert, brie, roquefort, goat cheese and blue cheese.
Below is the full list within Sinodis’ appendix:
Further investigation revealed that some blue cheeses had already been banned since last year, like gorgonzola.
The official letter from Sinodis states that they received “an announcement from the Chinese official authorities saying that part of cheese products containing certain moulds cannot temporarily be imported in China.”
Perhaps the keyword in there is “temporarily,” but for now remains uncertain.
What about canned soup and baking powder?
On our search for confirmation of the cheese ban, sources have also told us that canned soups and baking powder have also been axed. Say goodbye to Campbell’s soup.
According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, “The Chinese government believes there is a harmful substance in baking powder and has therefore banned importation. Even though everybody else in the world eats/uses/needs it for baking. For soup, it may have something to do with meat stock.”
Like cheese, any baking powder or canned soups that you may see on shelves at the moment is leftover imported stock. If you’re thinking like us, we’d stock up.
Update: September 8, 6:50pm
The following are the official Chinese documents for the cheese ban. The files are from 2010, 2011, 2012. It has been several years since China set their limits for yeast in cheese. However, why they decided to push the button now remains unclear. Click to download: GB 5420-2010, GB 2761-2011, GB 2762-2012.
By Rachel Gouk