There is no method to test whether powdered milk is used to produce halloumi, MPs heard on Tuesday as the House agriculture committee tried to find a way to deal with the issue that could endanger the product’s EU PDO designation.

The use of powdered milk came to the fore after MPs received reports that a purported method used from 2011 until 2022 to detect powdered milk proved a failure.

Speaking after the session, committee head Akel MP Yiannakis Gavriel said it became clear that the method used could not stand up in court “and therefore no fines were imposed,” adding that what is being done is to put a marking on the powdered milk “so that we know where it goes”.

He said during the session MPs were informed that no checks are being carried out and that the commerce ministry, the agriculture ministry, and the veterinary services are all saying different things about the matter.

“It is like there is an invisible hand holding everyone back from doing the checks [on the milk],” he said.

He said that proposals were made in the session, expressing the belief that those involved will realise the great risk that exists in what concerns the registration of halloumi as a PDO product at the European level and that everyone will be responsible.

In an earlier report, it turned out that Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos had not responded to requests by Diko MP Christos Orphanides to explain the issue of checks on powdered milk used in halloumi production.

Meanwhile in daily Politis, it emerged that four to five tons of halloumi were being produced yearly, which did not add up to the amount of milk available.

According to the state laboratory, milk powder is 97 per cent dehydrated milk, which, by reconstituting it with the addition of water, replaces milk in the preparation of halloumi. This results in halloumi adulterated with milk powder having the same properties as genuine halloumi.

The magnitude of the problem can easily be seen by comparing the annual production of halloumi with the available quantities of milk.

According to figures of the agriculture ministry, about four to five tons of halloumi are produced every year without being able to justify it based on the available quantities of goat and cow milk and as estimated, milk powder or even undeclared milk from the north.

In a session of the House agriculture committee in September, the general manager of the Pancypriot Organisation of Cattle Breeders, Nikos Papakyriakou, complained that 80 per cent of cheese makers use milk powder.