On Tuesday, French newspaper Liberation published an open letter signed by some of the country’s star chefs, including France’s top female chef Anne-Sophie Pic and three-Michelin starred chef Emmanuel Renaut, which said, “The Normandy Camembert made with raw milk is being murdered”, warning that if the move goes ahead it would become “a soft paste with no taste”.
The letter went on to blast the agreement between the cheese manufacturers, calling it “a victory for the agri-food industry” and “a fatal loss for farmers and consumers”.
“In just five years, the real Normandy Camembert will be a luxury product, reserved for insiders, while most consumers will have to be satisfied with a replacement manufactured according to industrial methods,” it goes on, calling on French President Emmanuel Macron and Agricultural Minister Stéphane Travert to step in.
“We demand a Camembert with raw milk for all! Let us help milk producers by aiming for quality with the aim of respecting our traditions! Liberty, equality, Camembert!” concludes the letter.
Traditionally, in order for producers to use the prestigious AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegé) label on their cheese not only did the cheese have to be made with unpasteurized milk, 50 percent of it had to come from Normandy cows grazing in Normandy fields.
But big producers didn’t like those restrictions and used pasteurized milk from any kind of cow. As long as the factory was in Normandy they could simply put the label “Made in Normandy” on the round box with the aim of confusing customers.
As part of the agreement big producers made a kind of compromise by saying that 30 percent of the milk used to make the cheese comes from real Normandy cows grazing in the region and it looks like by 2021 there will be just one Camembert from Normandy – that is, if the chefs don’t get their way.