Incandescent with RAGE!

'Insufficient' is not a reason to close down a business!

I am incandescent with RAGE! Some of you know my opinion of Environmental Health as interfering busy bodies who should get a job in the real world.  I do know that there is a need for them to perform a function of dealing with people who bend the rules and put our lives at risk, but how can they justify putting a local artisan cheesemaker in the fray?

I found out this morning at Edinburgh Farmers’ Market that Gabriele Caputo and Adriana Alonzi, who make some of the best mozzarella this side of Rome, have been forced to cease trading. They have been making mozzarella, scamorza affumicata, ricotta and Provolone for several years, providing many Edinburgh restaurants and some cafes with their fabulous cheese. And within a blink of an eye have had their business ripped out from under them and depriving us of some fantastic food. 
Yesterday they were ordered by environmental heath to dump 500 litres of milk, to stop cheese production and to cease trading. Why? Because, in my opinion, those involved have no real understanding of the cheesemaking process. These officials are making us a namby pamby culture too frightened to eat something that hasn’t been processed to hell and back.
I have been to see the cheese being made and I can tell you this couple keep everything scrupulously clean, no-one is allowed in without protective hats, overalls and foot coverings.  I cannot believe that there is anything they haven’t done to confirm to the strict regulations needed to make cheese. I’m at a complete loss, totally gobsmacked and thoroughly outraged and angry at this travesty. 
Gabriele and Adriana’s letter above tries to explain why this has happened but clearly still leaves us all confused by the decision by Environmental Health. What do they (EH) mean by ‘insufficient’?  Please give us a clue as to why S.S dei Naufragati have been told to cease trading, because ‘insufficient’ isn’t a good enough answer.
Gabriele and Adriana will be appealing against the decision and they have set up a petition. The comments I read on there this morning is one of disbelief and anger. Hopefully this stupidity will be rectified and I , as well as other regulars of the market, will be able to get back to buying some of the best ricotta and mozzarella outside Italy!

© Lea Harris, Off the Eaten Track 2011.

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8 thoughts on “Incandescent with RAGE!

  1. UPDATE:
    I spoke to Adriana ealier this week and as far as I can gather this is the situation so far.
    EHO failed them because there weren’t any hand towels, there were some cracks in tiles and rubble from replacing drainage hadn’t been cleared from the office. Said rubble was behind a closed and sealed door 10 meters from the cheese making area. EHO wouldn’t give them a couple of hours to rectify these issues! If there were any danger to the general public and they were not ‘implementing and maintaining an adequate food safety management system’ then why did the EHO’s let them sell cheese they had made the previous day under the same conditions at the Farmers’ Market last Saturday? It just doens’t make sense.
    Adriana will be at tomorrow’s Edinburgh Farmers’ Market with their petition, so please go along and sign it. I will be seeing Adriana next week and I’ll let you know what’s happening.
    Thanks for all your support.
    Lea

  2. What a terrible situation. I really do get fed up with meddling EH who I often find have no real knowledge of food production of passion. In the current climate all businesses should be supported and helped. The issues could have easily been sorted given time. I hope the appeal us successful

  3. Thanks for your support Julia. EH should help and encourage artisan producers. Their actions can ruin livelihoods of passionate and skilled craftsmen through their lack of understanding. They should also use some commonsense, not every situation is going to be text book, there has to be some leniency. A retired EHO was quoted in the press, “I know I’m there to enforce the law, but I’m also there to help them. I enjoy helping and working with people, not beating them with a stick.” The EHO person concerned with this case should take note.

  4. Pingback: What to do with Five Pints of Raw Milk | Off the Eaten Track

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