This resolution addresses the need for the Economic Integration Council of Ministers, including authorities representing Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Panama, to create a unified system that will facilitate the registration of food products in Central America, thus establishing the specifications that cheese must meet to be registered and sold, from classification to compliance with labeling regulation, thereby partially adopting the General Rule of Codex for Cheese (Codex Stan 283-1978).
The main classification criteria applicable to cheese include: a) time elapsed from production to consumption, and b) texture. Based on the time from elaboration to consumption, cheese is further classified as: ripened cheese, unripened cheese (including fresh cheese) and processed cheese (including cheese spreads). Based on texture, cheese is classified according to the moisture content on a fat-free basis (MFFB).
When the MFFB content is below 51%, it is called extra hard (ripened). If it is equal to or higher than 49% and equal to or lower than 56% it is hard or mould ripened. If it is equal to or higher than 54% and equal to or lower than 69% it is said to be firm/semi-hard or unripened/fresh. If it is higher than 67% then it is soft or in brine. In order to calculate the moisture content on a fat-free basis, the weight of moisture in the cheese must be divided by the total weight of cheese (weight of fat in the cheese) and multiply by 100.
In addition to milk and byproducts, this regulation recognizes the following ingredients as raw materials permitted in cheese production:
• Starter-cultures of harmless bacteria producing lactic acids and/or taste and flavor modifiers.
• Culture of other safe microorganisms.
• Ideal and safe enzymes.
• Sodium chloride.
• Potable water.
• Other foods or ingredients with no impact on safety, such as seasoning and spices, natural or artificial smokes, herbs, fresh and processed fruit and vegetables.
This norm, which will come into force on December 25, 2015, is another example of the interest of Central American countries to form a true unity. CENTRAL LAW, a Legal Firm in Central America supports this initiative for Central American integration through mutual cooperation between the regional CENTRAL LAW offices with a multidisciplinary team of experts in regulatory matters.