On 4th April, 1968 the "Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” ruling was applied to Beaufort cheese. The authenticity of Beaufort production is guaranteed by strict specifications that every person in the co-operative must adhere to (farmers, cheese makers, cellarmen) to ensure that the AOC designation is not withdrawn. Numerous and strict controls are enforced by representatives from the AOC administration.
The specifications define:
the shape of the cheese, recognisable by its concave “hoop side”
the region where it is produced: this is a limited geographical area, including the valleys of Beaufortain, Tarentaise, Maurienne and part of the Val d’Arly
use of local traditions (breed of cow, feed, etc.).
Rules governing milk production
The milk must come from cows from the “Tarine” and/or “Abondance” breeds. Annual milk production per cow must not exceed 5,000 kilos. The feed must comprise hay and grazing grass only. The use of silage is prohibited.
The making of milk into cheese
All the stages of production are specified: the time allowed for the milk to arrive at the dairy (or cheese factory), the preparation of starter bacteria and rennet, the moulding in the linen cloth and the wooden frame that gives the Beaufort its characteristic shape. The cheese must be left to mature for at least five months.
The terms: “summer” and “chalet d’alpage”
The term “summer Beaufort cheese” refers to the milk produced from June to October inclusive and also includes milk from mountain pastures produced according to local traditions and methods.
The term “chalet d’alpage Beaufort cheese” refers to cheese produced in the summer, manufactured using traditional methods twice daily in mountain chalets above an altitude of 1,500 metres and using the milk produced by no more than a single herd belonging to the chalet.
The INAO: Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (National Institute of Authentic Appellation)
The INAO is responsible for managing the AOC designations and for controlling milk production, cheese production and maturing.
Each cheese producer signs a declaration to uphold the specific conditions set down in the Beaufort AOC and the designation may be withdrawn if the producer fails to uphold this responsibility. The main purpose of these controls is to guarantee the characteristic taste qualities of the Beaufort cheese.
Visit the site of the "Syndicat de Défense du Fromage Beaufort” (Beaufort Cheese Protection Syndicate): www.fromage-beaufort.com