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The Australian Cheese Disaster 2016


We all have memories regarding cheese, some fonder than others. (I won’t reveal too much but my most traumatic cheese moment involved a bagel, some cream cheese, and the toaster oven I lit on fire.) But chances are you probably don’t fondly think back to how cheese is packaged, shipped, and handled before it ends up on a cracker starting down its inevitable demise on the hors d’oeuvres plate. Nevertheless, every day cheese needs to make its way from your dairy animal of choice to those consumer hands of yours, and every day things can go wrong.

Things went pretty wrong in Australia on February 9, when a truck laden with more than 20,000 kilograms of cheese—roughly 44,000 pounds—spilled out on a highway in the southeastern province of New South Wales. The tragedy occurred at about 10:30 P.M. Australian time and forced crews to labor through the night collecting and reloading the cheese onto a different 18-wheeler so it could be delivered to grocers on time. Just kidding, that last bit is a total lie, that would be disgusting. Crews were forced to work all night, however, as the cheese spill caused both lanes of Australia’s Prince’s Highway to close for 12 hours following the incident.

The truck left the southern town of Bega, home of Bega cheese, and was heading up the coast towards Sydney when it overturned in the wonderfully named town of Jerrawangala, officials said. The driver was taken to the hospital but was luckily only treated for shock.

In the end the cheese was taken back to the facility in Bega, to be weighed for insurance purposes. Although the loss of 44,000 pounds of cheese is something to mourn, we may take some small solace in the fact that we didn’t lose any award-winning or painstakingly made cheeses—Bega makes cheese products in much the same sense that Kraft makes cheese. They’re behind the Australian canned cheddar and other highly preserved delicacies. The spill, from the pictures available, appears to have been mostly prepackaged cheese slices akin to our American cheese. The good people of NSW’s coast may have to find an alternative cheese to make gooey grilled cheeses with, but other than that there seems to have been little damage done.

<Feature Photo Credit: stockphoto mania | Shutterstock

Brook O'Meara-Sayen

Brook O’Meara-Sayen is a journalism student at Emerson College forever on the hunt for that last ten minutes of sleep. In his spare time he enjoys reading, Merle Haggard, and spending Friday evenings trying to break his personal record for most cheddar eaten in one sitting.