Cheese maker settles case over ingredient claim


AN IRISH cheese manufacturing company has settled its Commercial Court action over potential €10 million losses due to it being supplied with allegedly defective rennet, an enzyme-based ingredient made by a Dutch company.

The rennet had resulted in cheese with a “soapy aftertaste and an off-flavour”, Carbery Milk Products Ltd had claimed.

The case was admitted to the Commercial Court last November but Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told yesterday it had been settled.

Carbery, of Ballineen, Co Cork, had sued Carbon Chemicals Group (CCG) Ltd, with registered offices at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, which supplies food ingredients for use in food manufacturing, and DSM Food Specialities BV, with registered offices at Delft, the Netherlands, which makes food ingredients.

Carbery claimed it reached an agreement with CCG on March 5th last to purchase rennet manufactured by DSM under the brand name Fromase 220XL.

It claimed that certain batches of Fromase 220XL supplied to it between January 12th, 2008 and September 25th, 2008 were defective.

Certain batches were contaminated with an excessive level of the enzyme lipase and, as a result, cheese made by Carbery using the affected batches had an “off-flavour and a soapy aftertaste” and were unfit for supply to customers, it was alleged.

Carbery claimed that CCG was required to provide rennet suitable for use in cheese manufacturing.

In its claim against the Dutch company, it alleged that it owed a duty to Carbery to take reasonable care to protect Carbery from a risk of danger of which the company knew, or ought to have known.

Carbery claimed a “very significant” quantity of cheese manufactured by it was contaminated as a result of the allegedly defective rennet.

It was notified by CCG in September last of a “possible issue” with certain batches of Fromase 220XL, it said.

Carbery also expressed concern that because of the alleged contamination, the Irish Dairy Board, which purchases cheese from Carbery, would not pay it for cheese that it had already supplied. It said that the cheese was sold at full market value before the problem was detected.

While much of the affected cheese had been quarantined, a portion of it had been processed, the company said. Some of the cheese was sold under the Tesco Carbery sub-brand, which would lose market share, while a sub-brand just launched with Asda would also suffer.