Cheese Compositional Standards and Cheese Import Licensing

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Revisions to the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Dairy Products Regulations (DPR) harmonize and clarify the ingredients permitted for cheese making. The DPR also introduces cheese import licensing. The revisions came into effect on December 14, 2008.

Compositional Standards

The revisions require that cheese derive a minimum amount of its casein from fluid milks and ultrafiltered milks rather than from other milk products and have a whey protein to casein ratio that does not exceed that of milk

  • The casein content derived from milks must meet or exceed the percentages of the total protein content of the cheese, dependent on the variety
    • total protein refers to the value determined using internationally recognized official methods which measure total nitrogen (Kjeldhal)

The CFIA will randomly assess whether the cheese whey protein to casein ratio requirement (Codex parameter) is met by reviewing vat records and performing analytical testing of the cheese, if required. Although there is no analytical methodology related to casein origin in the final product, this requirement can be assessed by applying the following formula:

  • % Casein derived from milks = Quantity of milks x Protein of milks x Casein number x Retention coefficient ÷ (Protein content of cheese x Quantity of cheese)
    • % CDM = Qm x Pm x CN x RC ÷ (Pc x Qc)

Although milk composition can vary depending on time of year, breed, and feed, the following constant values will be used to facilitate more standardized cheese formulations and to enable uniform implementation:

  • Retention coefficient: 0.96 (Van Slyke equation for cheese yield)
  • Casein number:
    • for skim milk: constant value: 0.776Footnote 1 (AAFC research)
    • for other milks and cream: (xx% BF): 0.776 x (P- 0.002 x %BF) /P considering 2 mg MFGM protein is associated to each gram fat. (MFGM = milk fat globule membrane)
    • for UF milk: value is estimated from protein concentration (P): CN = (P-0.15) x 0.813)/P.


All cheese importers require a CFIA cheese import licence and required documentation (recall program, cheese list, and if required, establishment plans, sanitation and pest control programs, water analysis, etc.)

During regular monitoring of the Importer Verification activity which assesses Good Importing Practices (GIP), CFIA will assess compliance of imported cheese, including the revised compositional requirements. Acceptable documentation includes:

  • Cheese specification sheets indicating specific ingredients
  • Supporting documentation
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