To ensure that Wisconsin cheeses meet State and Federal Standards, only cheesemakers licensed by the State may oversee the production of cheese in Wisconsin. They must be knowledgeable about:
- Grading milk and milk ingredients
- Preparation and use of cultures and starters
- Pasteurization of milk
- Acidity control
- Common cheese defects and methods to solve them
- Yeast, mold and bacteria controls
- Mathematics of practical dairying
Wisconsin Cheese Grading Standards
To ensure the quality and consistency of Wisconsin Cheese, the State became the first in America to establish a quality cheese grade standard and system. In 1921 Wisconsin instituted quality grades for the major cheese varieties they produced. Wisconsin became the only State to mandate cheese grading for all of these cheese products.
Factors that determine cheese grade levels are categorized in one of four areas: flavor, body and texture, color, and finished appearance. To meet the highest grade standards of Wisconsin Certified Premium Grade AA or Grade A cheeses must score at the top of all of these grade categories.
Wisconsin Standards of Identity
To facilitate the safe and orderly marketing of Wisconsin Cheese, the State has also adopted the Federal Standards of Identity for Cheese that were also developed originally from Wisconsin’s standards. In addition, Wisconsin continues to adhere to even more stringent State Standards to ensure Wisconsin cheese product excellence.
Wisconsin Licensed Cheese Graders
Grade stamps on Wisconsin Cheese can be applied only by Cheese Graders who are certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection. That agency performs routine checks to review the Graders records and accuracy of cheese graded.