Brazil – 11 Feb 13. In Brazil, illegal markets aren’t confined to the usual suspects like guns, drugs or contraband. There is also a sizeable black market in cheeses: not the imported variety, but rather traditional cheeses made from raw milk by thousands of small-scale artisan producers. According to Emater, an organization for technical assistance and rural development, today nearly 40% of all artisanal cheese made countrywide is sold on the black market.
The reason is simple. For more than 50 years an outdated, severe law that was created for the large industrial producers has forced a large part of the small-scale raw-milk cheesemakers to sell their products on the black market. The law stipulates that cheese made from unpasteurized milk, must be aged at least 60 days in order to be sold in other Brazilian states. It also requires that the tables, forms and workbenches used in production be made of stainless steel, instead of the usual wood. For many of the small producers it is too costly to make the necessary changes, but it is not only an economic concern; using stainless steel in place of wood changes both the quality and the flavor of the cheeses.