The authenticity of Halloumi cheese is under threat due to the use of powdered milk, which has gone undetected in production tests. This poses a risk to the cheese’s Protected Designation of Origin status, as conflicting reports and a lack of checks exacerbate the issue.
Is the authenticity of Halloumi cheese threatened by the use of powdered milk?
Yes, the authenticity of Halloumi cheese is threatened as tests have failed to detect powdered milk in production, risking its Protected Designation of Origin status. Despite being marked, powdered milk is reportedly used by cheese makers, undermining traditional methods and the cheese’s integrity. Conflicting reports and lack of checks exacerbate the issue.
Testing Gaps Exposed in Halloumi Production
During a recent meeting of the House agriculture committee, Cyprus MPs were confronted with the troubling fact that there is currently no effective method to determine if powdered milk is being used in the production of halloumi. This revelation carries significant weight, as it could potentially jeopardize the cheese’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status within the European Union.
Failed Detection Methods
The issue of powdered milk substitution in halloumi manufacturing rose to prominence when it was discovered that the tests conducted from 2011 to 2022 to identify the presence of powdered milk were unsuccessful. Committee chair and Akel MP Yiannakis Gavriel highlighted the gravity of the situation, stating that the existing methods for detection could not withstand legal scrutiny, resulting in the absence of imposed fines. Gavriel added that current measures only extend to marking powdered milk to track its distribution.
Conflicting Reports and Lack of Checks
In a troubling twist, it was disclosed that there are no ongoing checks to address this problem. Moreover, the commerce ministry, the agriculture ministry, and veterinary services appear to be at odds, providing conflicting statements on the matter. Gavriel metaphorically described it as “an invisible hand holding everyone back from doing the checks.”
The Halloumi Production Puzzle
Adding to the debate, an investigation by Politis newspaper unearthed a discrepancy in halloumi production figures. Records suggest that four to five tons of halloumi are produced annually, which starkly contrasts the volume of milk available. This gap has raised questions about the use of undeclared milk or milk powder.
Milk Powder in the Mix
The state laboratory has identified milk powder as being 97 percent dehydrated milk. When rehydrated, it becomes a substitute for milk in halloumi preparation, resulting in a product that holds the same properties as traditional halloumi. This potential adulteration can be quantified by comparing the total annual halloumi output with the actual milk supply on hand.
In a House agriculture committee meeting held in September, Nikos Papakyriakou, the general manager of the Pancypriot Organisation of Cattle Breeders, lamented that an estimated 80 percent of cheese makers are incorporating milk powder into their halloumi.
Additional Context and Concerns
The integrity of halloumi as a PDO product hangs in the balance as stakeholders grapple with these issues. Previous reports indicated that Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos had yet to respond to inquiries made by Diko MP Christos Orphanides regarding the examination of powdered milk in halloumi production. The cheese-making community, along with regulatory bodies, face the pressing task of aligning their methods and strategies to safeguard the authenticity and future of Cyprus’s beloved halloumi.
- The authenticity of Halloumi cheese is threatened by the use of undetected powdered milk in production, risking its Protected Designation of Origin status.
- There is currently no effective method to determine if powdered milk is being used in the production of Halloumi.
- Tests conducted from 2011 to 2022 to identify the presence of powdered milk in Halloumi were unsuccessful.
- Conflicting reports and a lack of checks between ministries have exacerbated the issue.
- An investigation has revealed a discrepancy in Halloumi production figures, raising questions about the use of undeclared milk or milk powder.