Chinese customs officials have downgraded European soft cheese from its previous Biohazard status to that of a mere hazardous material.
The Chinese authorities imposed a ban on the import of cheese such as Roquefort, Danish Blue and Stilton upon opening a shipping crate full of the stuff which resulted in the evacuation of an entire coastal town near Shanghai due to the smell.
The EU Commissioner for Smelly Soft Cheese Mr. Gordon Zola said, “I can confirm that the Chinese quarantine officials finally believe that we’re not winding them up when we say that the soft cheese we’ve been trying to export over there for a while now is actually fit for human consumption. Their initial reaction upon catching a whiff of several tonnes of Camembert was to assume that some kind of dirty bomb had been sent over, or it was an industrial product derived from the rotting carcasses of people with extremely smelly feet. When we told them it’s a product that’s very popular in France, the penny seemed to drop all of a sudden and they reluctantly accepted that there might be people out there crazy enough to risk contracting listeria at every mealtime.”
An EU delegation has been dispatched to Beijing to help ease the situation and convince the Chinese Defence Ministry that whilst a lot of European soft cheese does look a bit like the explosive material that is used in home made bombs, the little clock-like device on the door of a shipping crate full of Brie de Meaux is in fact the refrigerator dial and not a timing device.
It will still be several weeks before the previously-banned cheese is able to make its way to Chinese retailers, mainly because anyone that stores it will have to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test to acquire the necessary paperwork to hold what is still considered a dangerous substance in China.
“To be honest with you I think the Chinese think us westerners are all a bit mad really. From their perspective, going out of your way to eat fermented mould and fungus that has been extracted from a cow’s tits is almost as weird a concept as Chop Suey to them,” Mr. Zola added.