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Cheese disaster spells misery for Fribourg dairy

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Cheese disaster spells misery for Fribourg dairy
More than 2,000 rounds fell when shelves collapsed. Photo: Yann Gar
13:20 CEST+02:00
It was a miserable moment for a newly renovated cheese dairy in Misery, in the canton of Fribourg, last week when more than 2,000 rounds of gruyère cheese came crashing to the floor after the shelves they were stored on collapsed.

The dairy, which had just been renovated and expanded as part of a 5.7 million franc upgrade programme, was due to open next Tuesday.

According to Fribourg daily La Liberté and confirmed by news agency ATS on Wednesday, the president of Misery’s dairy cooperative, Claude Mottas, said that of the 2,250 rounds maturing on the shelves since July, 250 were badly damaged in the collapse, mostly rounds that were relatively freshly made and therefore still delicate.

But the future of the other 2,000 rounds is also in doubt.

The dairy is hopeful they can be saved, however the income from their sale for the 20 farms in the region who supply milk to the dairy will depend on the eventual quality of the affected cheese.  

Mottas said they must be patient and hope that the cheeses continue to mature well.

If so, around half the affected rounds could be given over for fondue while the other half may still obtain the quality mark AOP,  estimated Mottas, while stressing that this was the dairy’s hope rather than a certainty.

The dairy is awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the shelving collapse, he said, though police have already ruled out sabotage.

According to Mottas, the mass collapse was witnessed by two workers who were cleaning cheese boards in the dairy when an unstable shelf collapsed.

This shelf knocked into the next, sparking a domino effect that brought down the entire shelving unit.

The cost of repairing the dairy is estimated at 300,000 francs ($313,000), said Mottas, and work should be completed by the end of November.

In the mean time, the 2,000 cheese rounds will be stored in another cellar.

The new dairy will nevertheless open will just one week's delay.

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