"The sale of raw-milk cheeses in Brazil must be defined as ‘informal' and not unlawful or illegal." This was one of the ideas discussed at the seminar in Foraleza, as the term avoids negative connotations that discriminate against a sector characterized by productive processes that are not illegal (we are speaking about cheese, not drugs or contraband goods!), but rather are little suited to local regulations.The Brazilian working group asserts that protecting raw-milk products is a complex campaign that concerns not just the cheeses themselves, but also animal breeds, shepherds, pastures, crafts and ancient knowledge.
A specific regulation that looks away from industry and considers the needs and contexts of small-scale productions is essential to this journey.
The working group has indicated as a priority the strengthening of dialogue with universities and local health authorities - which, for their part, should train their officials - and an assessment of utilizing guarantee trademarks (such as the Protected Geographical Indication or designation of origin).
The state of Minas Gerais provides an example of just how difficult the path can be. In 2002 a new state law legalized the production and sale of raw-milk cheeses, hitherto forbidden. Despite this milestone, today producers must also comply with a national law that prevents them from selling cheese outside the state boundary.
In this context, the working group believes that a consumer education campaign is needed more than ever. Conferences, events, tastings and markets must become instruments to provide the public with correct information on the value - environmental, cultural and gastronomic - of raw-milk products and of the difficulties that the producers face daily in the name of a questionable industrial concept of safety.