Rules & Guidelines

    The rules and guidelines below pertain to the 2011 ACS Judging & Competition, which was held in Montréal, Québec, from August  3-6, 2011. Rules and guidelines for the 2012 Judging & Competition will be posted  in the coming months.

    1.      WHEN AND WHERE

    The American Cheese Society Judging & Competition, one of the largest competitions for American-made cheeses, will take place Tuesday, August 2 and Wednesday, August 3, 2011, as part of the American Cheese Society’s Annual Conference. The conference dates are August 3-6 in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

    2.      ENTRY CRITERIA

    Cheeses must be made in North or South America, from a North or South American milk source. As part of your entry form, you will be asked to sign a pledge that confirms this essential criteria.

    Cheeses must be entered as whole wheels, loaves, or blocks.  Any cheese or dairy product under one pound of weight will require 1 retail case of samples – minimum of 6 pieces. All competition entries must be for sale to the general public on or before January 1, 2011 through the end of the competition, or for a minimum of six months.  ACS will not accept any cheese prototypes, samples, or other cheese that is currently undergoing market testing. Sale to the general public includes all retail shop sales, web sales, and farmers’ markets.  Cheese that is sold exclusively to restaurants, or only at venues where an admission fee is charged do not qualify.

    Entries must clearly state the name of the cheese, the dairy where the cheese was made, the wholesale value, and must include a copy of the State or County Health Dept. Permit to operate a Dairy/Food processing business/plant.

    Please Note: A separate form is required for each dairy plant location.


    Cheeses submitted for the judging must be identified only with their ACS Competition Entry Codes, which will be mailed to you in advance of the Judging & Competition. Please remove, mask, mark over, or otherwise obliterate all labels. Cheeses that require a pre-printed label or container must be submitted in generic, transparent plastic deli cups with only the entry number for your cheese attached to the cup.

    Cheeses shipped for non-competition events may be branded but must be clearly labeled, packed and/or shipped separately from competition entries.

    Cheeses shipped for the competition with any identifying labels or markings will be rejected for judging and the entry fee forfeited.


    Judges work in teams of two: one Technical and one Aesthetic. Technical Judges deduct points from a perfect score of 50 for flaws and defects; Aesthetic Judges award points to a maximum of 50 for outstanding characteristics and qualities.  ACS Judges are food professionals, selected from the Academic, Dairy Industry, Dairy Science, Cultures Manufacturing, Food Retailing, Food Distributing, and Food Press Communities, as well as the ACS membership.


    Minimum scores are required to earn awards. Cheeses do not compete “against” each other for ribbons within categories and subcategories. Standards of excellence apply to all entries.  Assuming minimum scores are met, the three highest scores in each category or subcategory will place 1st, 2nd and 3rd. However, it is possible that awards are not earned within a category if no entry achieves a minimum number of points.  Ties are allowed only for 2nd and 3rd Place finishers. No ties for 1st Place. (We allow half-point scoring to help reduce the number of ties.)


    For 2011, we added some new subcategories and redefined or condensed several existing ones. These include more detailed subcategories of fresh unripened cheeses, American Originals, Farmstead cheeses, International-style cheeses, flavored cheeses, cultured milk products, cheese spreads and washed rind cheeses. Please carefully review the category list to identify the category and subcategory which best describes your cheese or dairy product. This year there are 22 categories with a total of 99 subcategories.

    All entries are reviewed by the committee, and it is possible that we may contact you for clarification regarding your entry prior to competition. Please Note: It is not permitted to enter the same cheese in multiple categories.

    Winners of the American Cheese Society Competition will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Friday, August 5, 2011 and will be displayed at the Festival of Cheeses on Saturday, August 6. Winners present at the Awards Ceremony will be presented a ribbon.  Shortly after the conference, you will receive a copy of the score sheet(s) for each of your entries, including the judges’ comments, overall scores, and the number of entries per category.  Winners will also receive an official Awards Certificate and ribbon for each winning entry.

    The Festival of Cheese is the ACS’s annual gala and tasting. Cheeses and dairy products judged in the Competition are displayed at the Festival of Cheese.  The Festival also offers producers of complementary food and drink the opportunity to present their products to hundreds of cheese lovers. Wineries, breweries, bakeries, and charcutiers will offer their wares to all the food professionals and non-professional enthusiasts who will be attending this year’s Festival.

    One ticket per registrant for this event is included in the cost of a full conference registration, or a day pass registration for Saturday, August 6. Additional tickets may be purchased for this event. Please consult the ACS website for ticket prices. We always expect a large turnout with press, cheesemakers, trade personalities, wholesalers, retailers, chefs, and interested consumers, so please order your tickets early.


    $55 for on-time entries

    $80 for late entries


    May 20, 2011 – Deadline for on-time entries

    May 27, 2011 – Deadline for late entries (Entries received between May 21 and May 27 will be considered late and will be subject to the late entry fee of $80/cheese entry.)

    Entries received after May 27, 2011 will not be accepted.

    Please fill out the Annual Judging Entry Form and mail it with your check (or your credit card information) payable to the “American Cheese Society” as soon as possible. You may also download the entry form to submit and pay online.  Please Note: The Excel spreadsheet, PC and Mac compatible, provides the most accurate way to create and submit your entry form.


    FOR U.S. ENTRIES: ACS and the Judging & Competition Committee have been working closely with the Québec Government and UPS to ensure that shipping will be as seamless as possible. There will be no customs forms or international shipping charges for your competition entries. This year, all cheesemakers are required to ship their product via UPS to a designated shipping address in Plattsburgh, NY (this address will be included in the competition packet you’ll receive after your entry has been processed). ACS will consolidate all the U.S. cheeses on the New York side of the border and transport them into Montréal on our own truck(s). For that reason, and in order to ensure no time loss in shipping for this border crossing, all entrants will be required to ship product for delivery on the SAME DAY this year, rather than over two days as in past years.  All competition entries must arrive in Plattsburgh, NY on Thursday, July 28.

    FOR CANADIAN ENTRIES: Cheeses may be shipped directly to the Palais des Congrès de Montréal to be received on Thursday, July 28 or Friday, July 29.

    All cheeses may be sent to the same address in one shipment; however each event’s cheeses (e.g. Competition, Meet the Cheesemaker, and Cheese Scholar Evaluation) must be clearly identified in order to avoid loss.  Appropriate labeling will be provided by the ACS office with your shipping instructions and materials. Please mark or identify cheeses for different events on the cheeses themselves and on the outer box with the labels provided.