To anyone but a lover of exotic cheeses the argument in support of using raw milk in cheese manufacture could hardly be more arcane.
However, one cannot miss what one's never had. An introduction to the garden of earthly delights when sampling an unpasteurised camembert or Bleu d'Auvergne carries the black seeds of frustration for the traveller: Other than hard, grating cheeses raw-milk cheeses are unavailable in New Zealand.
The bogey has been the fear of listeriosis, fatal to the very young, the very old, the pregnant and those with auto-immune disorders (a group described collectively, if unflatteringly, as "Yopis"). The risk of listeria has long been considered too high, even though most cheese-related listeriosis outbreaks overseas seem to have been in the post-production handling of pasteurised cheese. Many raw milk advocates in Europe and the United States have claimed pasteurisation merely indemnifies sloppy practices by mass producers.
The process of pasteurisation destroys not only harmful bacteria in the milk but also benign microbes whose efforts impart a striking flavour in cheeses such as the sheep's milk blue cheese Roquefort.
Like fine wines, good cheeses have life and character. It does not take raw milk to produce an exceptional cheese - many of the world's greatest offerings are made from sterilised milk and a cheese maker's skill and the standard of the raw material will always determine the quality of the end product. However, raw milk gives the artisan cheese maker - an artist who uses science - another palette with which to create vibrant, subtle cheeses with an array of distinctive flavours, colours, textures and smells.
Sensory deprivation is about to lift for New Zealanders and recognition by the Food Safety Authority that the consumer should has the freedom to choose to choice should be greeted with rapture by cheese aficionados.
From July, Roquefort will be the first raw-milk, soft cheese allowed to be imported (to the accompaniment of official advice pointing out the perils for "Yopis"). The next step will be certification for New Zealand cheese-makers to allow them to create domestic raw milk soft cheeses.
This is all good news and a reassuring sign that old-fashioned common sense can prevail where everywhere there is evidence of needless capitulation to the precautionary principle.
Many New Zealanders will probably remain oblivious to the possibilities of raw milk cheese, just as they appear to be to the shortcomings of many bland, mass-produced camemberts and bries available in supermarket chillers and which are cheap but uninteresting.
However, for those prepared try the very best that assisted nature can provide there will be no going back.