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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Buffalo cheese beats disease fears
Buffalo Blue
Judy Bell hopes supermarkets will stock her new cheese
A new blue cheese is to hit dining tables after a herd of water buffalo was spared in the foot-and-mouth cull.

Buffalo Blue is being produced by specialist north Yorkshire dairy company, Shepherds Purse Cheeses, using milk produced by a 130-strong herd.

Production was delayed from March as there was a fear the buffalo, which were not infected by foot-and-mouth disease, might be culled by agriculture ministry officials as a safety measure.

But after experts said instances of the disease had fallen, the company decided to press ahead with production.

Cheese worker
The company employs 10 workers at its farm

Company founder Judy Bell, 50, based at Newsham, near Thirsk, said: "We have been holding off from making the cheese because we were afraid for the future of the buffalo.

"They were in the midst of an area with foot-and-mouth all around us, and there was a danger they might be killed as a preventative measure.

"We have made our first batches, and as far as we know we are the first company in the country to produce a blue cheese from buffalo milk."

Mrs Bell, who experiments with new developments and recipes in her farmhouse kitchen, said: "Buffalo milk is easy to work with and the end product is rich, creamy and moist."

The blue veins are created in the cheese by the introduction of penicillium roqueforti during the setting process.

Specialist producer

Shepherds Purse Cheeses was founded in 1989 and employs 10 people at Leachfield Grange farm.

It is the largest producer of sheep milk cheese in the country and the only blue cheese maker in Yorkshire, making Mrs Bell's Blue from ewes' milk and Yorkshire Blue from cows' milk.

The new cheese is being made in batches of 25, and will increase to 100 a week when orders to delicatessens and supermarkets are secured.

Buffalo Blue will officially be launched at the British Cheese Awards in Stow-on-the-Wolds in September.

See also:

25 Feb 01 | Business
Making ends meat
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