Become the Guardian of Taste - save Hervlon!
Slow Food Presidia sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. The project was born as a natural branch of the Ark of Taste catalogue that lists endangered heritage foods. Products granted the title of Slow Food Presidium are selected during a lengthy and thorough investigation. Those chosen can truly be called the guardians of our history, taste and diversity.
The raw milk Herve cheese was the first Belgian product to become a Slow Food Presidium. This small light-orange block with its peculiar smell is a true witness of the agricultural history of the region and the country.
Nevertheless, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) decided, as a preventive measure, to prohibit Mr José Munnix (one of two remaining producers of the raw milk Hevre) to sell his mythical Hervlon. The measure was taken, because some samples in Mr Munnix’ maturing cellar proved to be positive for listeria. Even though the doses detected were very low (4.5 units / g), FASFC applied the ‘zero tolerance’ rule.
Slow Food Metropolitan Brussels has tremendous respect for the work of FASFC. We consider it crucial for guarding the safety of our food and detecting all the abuses in the food chain in Belgium. It is, therefore, not our intention to generate an open conflict vis-à-vis this organisation.
However, the decision concerning Mr Munnix seems to have been taken without any questioning about the specificity of the product, the actual bacterial risk and the context related to its sale. In fact, applying the ‘zero tolerance’ rule to the production of artisanal cheese without any prior analysis can only result in closing it down: it is practically impossible to achieve zero bacterial contamination during artisanal raw milk production.
We are even more astonished by the severity of the measure, considering that the large-scale retailing is allowed a maximum of 100 units / g in the analysed material - 20 times more than the level detected in the samples mentioned above. Having said that, it is important to stress that Mr Munnix sells his cheese in relatively small quantities and only on his farm.
Taking into account the experience of three generations of farmers producing Hervlon, it is unlikely that the fear of listeria is what motivates the government and FASFC to follow the 'zero tolerance' policy. It's rather the growing greed of big agribusiness companies repeating the same message over and over again and whispering it to our leaders’ ears - 'produce sterile, produce standardised and all the food health risks of the world will vanish'. It doesn’t matter if Herve cheese from raw milk, or Camembert or Comté AOC are the victims and must go out of the window, and it’s irrelevant that we loose our food heritage. What is imporant here is the reason of the strongest.
We ask you all to become Guardians of Taste, to convince your families, neighbours, friends and your leaders to stand up for the raw milk Herve! We need to stop the eradication of the Hervlon - a unique symbol of our food history!
Rue de Maestricht, 122
TEL : +32 (0) 87 67 40 01
Web : http://fromageriemunnix.skyrock.com/
This is just an abstract, for the full version, please refer to the French part of the website.