Judging & Competition Eligibility Requirements

The ACS Board of Directors and Judging & Competition Committee have determined that the following types of entities may enter the ACS Judging & Competition:

Cheesemakers and Cultured Dairy Producers* 

Individuals or Entities that operate within a licensed cheese/dairy plant to turn liquid animal milk or whey into curd using bacteria and/or acid set procedure and/or heat, or produce fermented products using bacteria and liquid whey and/or animal milk.

*The parent company of a licensed Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer qualifies as a Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer for the purposes of the Judging & Competition and may enter cheese produced by the subsidiary.

Affineurs

Individuals or Entities that operate within a licensed facility and procure cheese from a Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer (that also operate within a licensed cheese/dairy plant) and alter product through additional, specialized maturation with no cutting or dissecting of the original shape and size, or apply flavors, smearing, or added molds, yeasts, and/or bacteria with no cutting or dissecting of the original shape and size.

Second Level Producers and Cheese Processors

Individuals or Entities that operate within a licensed facility and procure cheese (including purchasing and using fresh or frozen curd) from a Cheesemaker(s) or Cultured Dairy Producer(s) (that also operates within a licensed cheese/dairy plant) and manipulate the shape, consistency or flavor to produce a different product or blend multiple cheese or Cultured Dairy Products to produce a different product.

Co-Packers and Designers

Individuals or Entities that outsource to a licensed Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer (that operate within a licensed cheese/dairy plant) to produce cheese or cultured Dairy Products according to the co- packer’s or designer’s specific recipe and matured in a specific method for a specific period of time.

Private Labelers

Individuals or Entities that contract with a licensed Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer to produce cheese or cultured Dairy Products according to the Cheesemaker’s or Cultured Dairy Producer’s original recipe.

Company Requirements

  • Entrant must be a current ACS Organizational member.
  • Entrants will be required to affirm that they have a valid and current 11-digit Federal Facility Registration Number by providing the last 4-digits of this number along with the expiration date.

The Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 and amended by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires Food Facilities to Register with the FDA. If you do not have your Federal Facility Registration Number, please click here for additional information and to register your facility.

  • Entrants must provide the name and dairy plant number of the original cheesemaker for each entry.
  • Entrants must identify all entity types that apply to the entering organization.

Cheese Entry Requirements:

  • Cheeses entered into the Judging & Competition must be for sale to the general public at least six months prior to the start of competition. No prototypes or products currently in R&D are allowed.
  • Sale to the general public includes all retail shop sales, web sales, and farmers’ markets. Cheeses that are sold exclusively to restaurants, or only at venues where an admission fee is charged do not qualify.
  • The milk the product is made from must be made in the Americas: North, Central, or South America.
  • Any product may only be entered in the competition once per calendar year. This includes products that may be marketed under different labels.
  • Entries must be comprised of at least 51% cheese or cultured dairy product.
  • Entrants will be required to provide the production date for each product entered. This information will be collected on the Packing Slip at the time of shipping.

Acknowledgments and Affirmations

Upon entering the ACS Judging & Competition, you will be asked to affirm the following two statements:

Standards of Identity Acknowledgement

All of our entries adhere to the Standards of Identity for Cheese and Related Cheese Products as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 part 133.

For products not defined by a Standard of Identity, or for products that require the use of pasteurized milk under the 21 CFR 133, I affirm that our products are made with legally pasteurized milk. If the applicable Standard of Identity allows for the use of unpasteurized milk/dairy ingredients, I affirm that our products have met the minimum time and temperature requirements for curing defined under that standard.

Food Safety Affirmation

The American Cheese Society values food safety, and we believe that our members craft the most wholesome, delicious, and safe cheeses around. We strive to ensure that our members are ahead of the curve on any regulatory changes, and encourage our members to adhere to the best practices and highest standards of cheesemaking.

Those entering products must affirm that their facility has practices and procedures in place to ensure products fall within the current pathogen levels regulated by the FDA Compliance Program for Foodborne Biological Hazards (Domestic and Imported Cheese and Cheese Products).  Products must be free of:

  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Salmonella
  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), including O157:H7

Additionally, the following must be met :

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli): not to exceed 1×104 CFU/gram
  • Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC): not to exceed 1×103 CFU/gram
  • Staphylococcus aureus: not to exceed 104 or greater CFU/gram; toxin test must be negative

Additional Information

Entrants must also affirm the following statements:

  • We have received permission from the original cheesemaker(s)/cultured dairy producer(s) to enter all products being entered into the Judging & Competition. (Entrants will be required to provide the name of the original cheesemaker/producer for each entry.)
  • We understand that it is our responsibility as the entering entity to provide complete and accurate information at the time of entry.
  • We understand that it is the responsibility of the entering entity to respond in a timely manner to inquiries from the American Cheese Society relating to specific entries. If responses are not received before the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition Database is closed, no refund will be given.