About The Guild

Launched in March 2015, the Guild of Cheese Graders was created by Bruce Macdonald, a cheese grader with over 30 years’ experience. He is a former Chairman of the International Cheese Awards.

Bruce recalls "I had been considering creating a body which has the single purpose of providing training to an industry which increasingly seeks proof of training and ability. I subsequently had many discussions with colleagues in grading, technical, cheese-making, retail, food science, sensory analysis and H.R. After listening carefully to their thoughts and insights and combining them with my own, I decided to take action."

Membership is open to people from all parts of the cheesemaking and associated industries regardless of their experience. The seminars are usually held in Oswestry in Shropshire, but have also been held in the Isle of Man, two in Somerset and one in London.

Cheese grading is a skilled activity which can have a major financial impact on a business. It is essential to ensure that graders have the correct skills and proven ability to correctly perform this demanding role.


The British Cheese Board
International Cheese Awards 2015

Whether for a grader for a major cheese manufacturer or brand, or a Quality Control checker for a multi-product sandwich manufacturer or a self-employed cheesemaker the fundamental skills and knowledge required about cheese quality are the same. The more people from different industry backgrounds and experience we enrol in the Guild, the better the understanding of cheese qualities will be spread across the industry.

At every seminar we use a specialist taste kit with "Indicative levels for taste recognition as recommended by BS 5929 Part 7:1992. ISO 3972: 1991". This has sweet, sour, salty, bitter and Umami flavours. This session is held twice and helps the delegates to better understand their own taste acuity and is a cornerstone of the Guild's seminar content.

Being fully aware of their taste acuity gives graders, tasters, cheese educators and commentators a far greater degree of authority, confidence and competence when discussing cheese flavours, therefore the use of this BS/ISO kit should be implemented across the industry as "Best Practice".

Continuing Professional Development: the Guild of Cheese Graders seminars are designed to give the members a high level experience and quality of knowledge, and to be an on-going and integral part of their CPD programme.

B.R.C: Guild membership is also relevant to British Retail Consortium. The member's written results for the taste kit the Guild uses at every seminar can be used as proof of training and therefore assist in complying with version 7, section 5.6, sub-sections 5.6.1, and

Cheese iron

The industry is now recognising the value of membership of the Guild of Cheese Graders and supporting this initiative. The Guild currently has seventy members with many of them and their employers kindly giving permission for their logos to be displayed on this website. Their trust and support are greatly appreciated.


To provide the individual with training to prove the essential basic abilities of taste, smell and cheese assessment.

To promote the use of the ‘common-language’ of cheese grading.

To provide proof of training.

To be an integral part of your Continuing Professional Development programme.


Certificated proof of membership.

Renewable certification of membership.

Members' names will be listed on The Guild website, ensuring industry recognition.

UK cheese competitions will annually receive a list of the members' contact details to be added to their list of judges.

Membership news and information.

Access to a growing industry network.

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Global Food & Dairy Awards - Accrediting Excellence

Accreditation: In July 2017 the Guild was awarded its accreditation by the Global Food & Dairy Awards. The GF&DA is itself accredited by the Society of Dairy Technology. The STD logo now features on the certificate Guild members receive from the GF&DA. These relationships serve to support and validate the Guild’s methods and credentials, and are additional positive steps in consolidating the Guild’s position in the industry.


Membership is open to all, regardless of their experience - whether from cheese manufacturing, technical, cheese-trading retailing, restaurants, hotels, or any associated industries including sandwich and prepared foods manufacturing, UK or non-UK based. Initial membership requires delegates to attend a two-day seminar and will be valid for a period of two years.

Enrolment Membership Seminar:
Content includes:

A Sensory screening session with indicative levels for taste recognition as recommended by BS 5929 Part 7:1992: ISO 3972: 1991. Understanding the palate and the ability to correctly discern flavours are the foundations of cheese grading and are integral parts of the Guild’s seminars.

Over 16 years’ experience of managing sensory sessions has shown that this is a vital stepping stone to the improvement of grading skills. Due to the purity of the flavours used, this process also helps the delegates to increase their understanding of their palate which, of course, is unique to them. This is highly beneficial to everyone who tastes and comments about cheese.

A review and discussion of ‘the language of cheese grading’:
This covers the descriptors for visual, physical, aroma and taste attributes and defects, and how these words are correctly implemented.

What does the cheese iron tell the grader? This is an interactive practical grading session about how best to interpret the use of the cheese iron.

Cheese functionality: What makes a cheese suitable for slicing, shredding, crumbling or cooking?

The seminar will also include three comprehensive grading sessions focusing on:
Cheddar, UK Territorials, Fresh, Soft, Semi-soft, Continental and Blue cheeses, and a session about judging at cheese competitions.

During the two days, we will taste and discuss around 50 cheeses.

Membership Renewal Seminar:
The Sensory Screening session is to be repeated biennially at a one-day seminar which will also include cheese grading and contributions from members.

The next dates for 2018 Seminars are:

16th & 17th May 2018 - Initial Membership Seminar to be held in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Cheese iron

21st & 22nd May 2018 - Initial Membership Seminar to be held in Clapham, London.

On-site Seminars:
The Guild also works with clients to provide them with bespoke Enrolment Seminars for groups of their own employees at their premises.

Costs and further information:
Please use the contact form below.

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The Guild of Cheese Graders®
Office: +44 (0) 1691 770364 Mobile: +44 (0) 7908 641011