Unpackaged cheese sales end in Turkey amid consumer, seller resistance

Unpackaged cheese sales end in Turkey amid consumer, seller resistance

Unpackaged cheese sales end in Turkey amid consumer, seller resistance

Cihan Photo

A new regulation banning the sale of unpackaged cheese became effective in Turkey as of Jan. 1, in line with adaptation to European Union regulations to increase hygiene and quality standards. Implementing the ban has, however, has annoyed many consumers who want to sample while shopping and several shop owners who have concerns about the rise in costs. 

The new regulation, which was prepared based on views of sector players, universities and nongovernmental organizations in conformity with the Turkish Food Codex, is expected to result in dramatic changes in the sale of cheese, as only packaged and hygienic cheese can be sold in market as of this year. The packaging will also need to be in accordance with what is required in the Turkish Food Codex, related food regulations and the Food Hygiene Regulation.

According to the Turkish Food Codex, the required packages of milk products and cheese need to show the production date and place, along with an expiration date, on smart labels. 

“Correct packaging extends the life of foods as well as maximizes health and hygiene standards. We see a new step in the historic move in maintaining food safety, hygiene and the fight against the informal economy…With the launch of smart labeling, food products will be monitored easier and more effectively, protecting consumers against counterfeit products,” said Turkish Packaging Manufacturers’ Association (ASD) President Sadettin Korkut in a written statement on Jan. 2. 

Problems have, however, arisen in the first days of implementation, as claimed in several reports. 

“This is a good project for ensuring hygiene standards, but may result in some rises in costs. Turkish consumers want to taste cheese before buying. We’ll need to open up vacuumed packages as they [the customers] will probably want us to open them. Good quality cheese is already sold in [upscale] markets in Turkey, but the new system will increase prices more,” said a shop owner in the Aegean province of İzmir, as quoted by Doğan News Agency. 

Another cheese seller in an open street bazaar in the southern province of Adana said that implementation of the new regulation would be easier if closed bazaars, which have electricity, were more common than open ones, where cheese is usually kept fresh in salty water. 

Adaptation to the new system will take some time, but the point is to prevent any loopholes in the system which will lead to the continuance of the prior system, according to sector representatives. 

Experts said these measures will enable consumers to buy more hygienic products in packaging, in accordance with what is required by the Turkish Food Codex.

The new regulation will also ensure lower salt levels in white cheese and banned the use of aromatic products in cheese.