The following grading description and score sheets are included as examples only. The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada official scoring system for export Cheddar is below. Also included is a general score card entitled “Cheese Judging Score Card” that can be used for any cheese variety (Table 13.1) at the end of this unit.

Agriculture And Agri-Food Guidelines For Grading Cheddar Cheese

Standards - Canada Dairy Products Act.

Flavour 45
Texture 25
Closeness 15
Colour 10
Finish 5


Flavour An ideal cheddar cheese should have a clean, mildly salty, nutty flavour and a pleasing aroma. The intensity of flavour varies with age.
Body The desirable body should be firm and springy, slightly elastic. The cheese should be smooth and waxy when crushed between the fingers. A slight weakness or coarseness may be permitted in first grade.
Closeness The ideal cheese should be continuous and free from openings, cracks, breaks or fissures. A slight openness may be permitted in 1st grade. Slight gas holes in second grade and gas holes or Swiss holes are third grade defects.
Colour The colour should be uniform and translucent whether white or coloured. A slight seaminess may be allowed in 1st grade.
Finish The cheese should present an unbroken rind or symmetrical shape and a clean neat attractive appearance.

1. Cheese should be held overnight at 14.5 - 15.5°C before grading.
2. Cheese samples should be 9 Kg in weight.
3. Cheese should be at least 21 days old before grading.
4. Early evaluation of aging potential can be obtained by grading a sample stored at 15°C for 21 days.

Common Descriptors used in Grading Canadian Cheddar Cheese

Code - Total Score, Maximum 94

1.      Sl. open, sl. stiff, sl. coarse, blurred branding, sl. damp end, sl moldy surface.

2.      As above plus slight acid tendency.

3.      Weak, open, coarse, wet ends, sl. acid, sl. gas or pin holes, mottled colour etc.

4.      Checked rinds with mold penetration. Sl. gas or pin holes. Any above defect plus a second defect except weak and open.

5.      Very weak, very acidy, very stiff, very open, gas or Swiss holes (always 3rd), very uneven colour, very mottled.

6.      Checked rinds, mold penetration, gas or Swiss holes (always 3rd).

Code - Flavour Score, Maximum 40

F    Sl. unclean, sl. off, sl. fruity, sl. weak. sl. musty, sl. bitter, sl. sour.

F2     Sl. rancid, fruity, off, bitter, weed, sour, musty.

F    Very fruity, rancid, badly off, very bitter, very unclean, very weedy.

Typical Example - Cheese Score

40 - 921 A 1st grade cheese with no flavour defects but which has objectionable body defects such as (1) sl. open, sl. stiff, or blurred branding.
39 - 885 A 2nd grade cheese with no flavour defects but which has objectionable body defects such as (5) checked rinds with mold penetration very weak or very acidy etc.
38(F1)-883 A 2nd grade cheese with (F1) a sl. unclean, sl. off, sl. fruity, sl. weed, etc., flavour and with defective body characteristics (2) open, weak or sl. acid.
36(F3)-865or6 A 3rd grade cheese with (F3) very fruity, rancid flavour, etc. and has objectionable body characteristics (5 or 6) such as checked rinds with mold penetration or large gas holes, etc.


Note: sl. - slight