AN AWARD-WINNING handmade cheese business has shut down production and is to close next year partly blaming over-regulation by Food Standards Scotland caused by their "visceral hatred of raw milk".

Barwheys Dairy, based near Maybole, opened ten years ago, reviving the traditional cheese-making skills of the area using unpasteurised milk from the dairy's herd of pedigree Ayrshire cows but has come under increasing financial pressure.

When it launched Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said the company "is to be applauded for using traditional handmade methods which add so much value to the marque and quality of Scottish products in both domestic and global markets".

HeraldScotland:

But Tricia Bey, the dairy's founder has confirmed that it has stopped making any more cheese and will shut down altogether in February and March, putting part of the blame on the Scottish Government quango and "increasingly invasive and onerous inspection and testing regimes" targeting cheesemakers using raw milk.

It is alleged to have come after stocks an E.coli outbreak in 2016 allegedly involving an Errington cheese, in which a three-year-old girl from Dunbartonshire died.

HeraldScotland: Humphrey Errington of Errington Cheese.

Cheesemaker Humphrey Errington, 74, was told that he can sell his cheese again after winning a fight with South Lanarkshire council, which wanted the products declared unsafe to eat and it emerged last montht he is demanding £400,000 compensation from the local authority.

Sheriff Robert Weir, QC, ruled that Errington Cheese did not breach safety standards at its factory and lifted an order stopping the sale of Lanark Blue and Corra Linn.

Ms Bey who said the extra testing planned was "to satisfy FSS's viscral hatred of raw milk said the closure was done with "a heavy heart".

HeraldScotland:

"We were delighted Barwheys was well received, winning six gold medals in six successive years at the Royal Highland Show - including Best Scottish Cheese and Best Scottish Cheddar in various years - and a gold at the Great Yorkshire Show this year," she said.

"But the world of micro-artisan food businesses is a tough one and I realise we are simply too small to resist the increasing pressures that our industry is facing. Like other small businesses we have been subjected to increasing financial pressures in terms of costs, pricing, demand and payments. These make it difficult for a micro-business to be sustainable.

"On top of these financial pressures and the usual challenges of farming, our regulator, who have a well-publicised aversion to raw milk cheesemaking, are proposing increasingly invasive and onerous inspection and testing regimes.

"Despite the pronouncements of the Scottish Government on the importance of the Scottish food industry, the attitude of their agent FSS makes us feel that we are being irresponsibly stubborn in wanting to continue making a high-quality, traditional raw milk cheese.

HeraldScotland:

"This has taken all the joy out of our previously happy enterprise.

"So I'm afraid that we have stopped production, the cows are being sold and once our stocks of Barwheys cheese have run down in the Spring there will be no more."

An FSS spokesman said: "Food Standards Scotland has no hidden agenda or vendetta against cheese made from unpasteurised milk, artisan producers or particular businesses. Artisan foods make an important contribution to Scotland’s worldwide reputation for high quality food and drink."