the Valençay AOP wants to save its cheeses in the face of health pressure on raw milk

A goat’s cheese recognizable by its pyramidal shape, the Valençay AOP brings together no less than 42 milk producers, 21 farmers, 4 refiners and 5 processors. Despite numerous assets, it must face several obstacles: success that does not cross borders, significant competition and increasingly strict health controls.

A particularly worrying situation for Isabelle Genevier, president of the appellation, calling on the regional vice-president responsible for agriculture and food, Temanuata, during the general assembly of the AOP, Tuesday May 21, 2024. Girard: “This cheese is close to our hearts, we are a very small appellation that needs to be talked about. But for several years, we have noticed decreasing production volumes and we are trying to find out why this cheese lacks notoriety. »

“We have already thrown away 20 tonnes of cheese”

What worries the president is the problem of raw milk: the health checks carried out by the National Institute of Origin and Quality (Inao) looking for pathogens in cheeses are increasingly drastic, penalizing producers and processors. “We have producers who stop because of this pressure. Since the start of the year, we have already thrown away 20 tonnes of cheese. »

Raw milk can contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning and even serious illnesses in the most vulnerable consumers. Hygiene standards are therefore increasing, requiring the destruction of part of the cheese production at the slightest doubt. “Our goal is not to stop health checks, but to adapt our production by working withsays Isabelle Genevier. By changing our specifications, we want to manage this crisis without having to systematically throw away or say goodbye to colleagues. »

Isabelle Genevier, president of the Valençay AOP, and Temanuata Girard, regional vice-president, signed the local small Indrian cheese sector.
© (Photo NR, Alice Rouger)

One of the solutions envisaged by the appellation would be to authorize producers to treat their milk in a new way to maintain quality and avoid any trace of pathogens.

The Valençay AOP brings together no less than 42 milk producers, 21 farmers, 4 refiners and 5 processors.
© (Photo Mathieu Herduin)

Doing pedagogy

“The problem of raw milk increases as research advancessays Temanuata Girard. The objective is not to break the motivation of producers, but to support them, both on a human and technical level. Raw milk remains a know-how, but adaptation is necessary. »

For its part, the Valençay AOP also relies on the dissemination of good practices to consumers in the hope of changing this bad image. “The lack of knowledge about the consumption of raw milk is incredibledeplores Isabelle Genevier. Many people are unaware that it is not recommended to give it to a child under 3 years old or a pregnant woman. » By developing its communication strategy, the appellation hopes to save its sector.

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