Entry Guidelines


    Thank you for your interest in the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition. The American Cheese Society’s goal is to provide positive recognition to cheeses and dairy products which have achieved technical excellence and exhibit the highest aesthetic qualities – we recognize products for their achievements in flavor, aroma, texture, and appearance.


    The following will be required for each entrant:

    • Entrant must be a current ACS member at the Small Business 1 level or above.
    • All competition entries must be for sale to the general public on or before January 22, 2018.  Sale to the general public includes all retail shop sales, web sales, and farmers’ markets.  Cheeses that are sold exclusively to restaurants, or only at venues where an admission fee is charged do not qualify.
    • Product must be made in the Americas from from a North, Central, or South American milk source only.  As part of the entry process, you will be asked to confirm that all of your entries meet this essential requirement. (This must be acknowledged in your company profile before you can enter the Judging & Competition.)
    • Any product may only be entered in the competition once (per calendar year). This includes products that may be marketed under different labels.
    • Entries must be comprised of at least 51% cheese or cultured dairy product.
    • A Signed Food Safety Standards Statement is required for each entrant.
    • A Dairy Plant Permit/Number is required for each entrant.
    • Entrants must identify all entity types that apply to the entering organization.
    • Entrants must provide the name and dairy plant number of the original cheesemaker for each entry.
    • Entrants must provide the appropriate documentation of business-specific licenses to prove that all affiliated entities are operating legally and working within state and federal regulations.  Separate documentation will be required for each dairy plant location.
    • Entrants will be required to provide the production date for each product entered (on the Packing Slip).

    Entrants must affirm the following statements:

    • We affirm that we have received permission from the original cheesemaker(s)/cultured dairy producer(s) to enter all products being entered into the Judging & Competition. (Entrants will be required to provide the name of the original cheesemaker/producer for each entry.)
    • We understand that it is our responsibility as the entering entity to provide complete and accurate information at the time of entry.
    • We affirm that at the time of entry, all documents provided are current and valid.
    • We understand that it is the responsibility of the entering entity to respond in a timely manner to inquiries from the American Cheese Society relating to specific entries. If responses are not received before the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition Database is closed, no refund will be given.


    • Product must be sent in its original form. Cheeses may not be plugged and/or resealed. Cheeses must be entered as whole wheels, loaves, or blocks. Exceptions will only be made for larger form cheeses, i.e. Emmental and Cheddar.  These cheeses must be presented in the form in which they are available for wholesale distribution. (For example, 10 lb. Print, 5 lb. Brick, 20 lb. Wedge, etc.)
    • Any cheese or dairy product under one pound of weight will require 1 retail case of samples or a minimum of 6 pieces.


    ACS requests that all companies use our online entry system to submit entries.  If you are a new entrant, please create a new profile via our Home page.  Returning users, please visit the Home page to login and begin the entry process.  If you prefer to enter via mail, please contact the ACS office at (720) 328-2788 for a paper entry form.  Please mail the entry form with your check (or your credit card information) payable to the “American Cheese Society” before the deadline to avoid late fees.


    This year, there are 20 categories with a total of 123 subcategories.  Please carefully review the 2017 Categories List to identify the category and subcategory which best describes your cheese or dairy product.  If you are a returning user and have duplicated any of your previous entries, please be sure to assign the correct entry subcategory for each entry.

    All entries will be reviewed by the committee to ensure the most appropriate placement. ACS reserves the right to assign entries to the correct category when an obvious mistake or incorrect choice is listed on the entry form.  ACS may contact you for clarification regarding your entry and will report any category changes to the cheesemaker prior to the competition. 

    Please Note: A product may only be entered into the competition once per year.  It is not permitted to enter the same cheese in multiple categories.


    Cheeses submitted for judging must be identified only with their ACS Competition Entry Number, which will be available for each entrant to print on our website prior to Competition. ACS will notify all entrants via email when entry labels and packing slips are available to be printed. This is typically on or around July 1 of the competition year.

    Please remove, mask, mark over, or otherwise obliterate all labels. Cheeses that require a pre-printed label or container must be submitted in generic, transparent plastic deli cups with only the entry number for your cheese attached to the cup.

    If you plan to ship product for other conference related events, please pack these items separate from you Judging & Competition entries.

    Cheeses shipped for the competition with any identifying labels or markings will receive a 7 point deduction from its Technical score.


    The following definitions have been established by the ACS Board and J&C Committee for entities that may enter the Judging & Competition:

    Cheesemakers and Cultured Dairy Producers* are defined as:

    Individuals or Entities that operate within a licensed cheese/dairy plant to:

    1. turn liquid animal milk or whey into curd using bacteria and/or acid set procedure and/or heat, or
    2. produce fermented products using bacteria and liquid whey and/or animal milk.

    *The parent company of a licensed Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer qualifies as a Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer for the purposes of the Judging & Competition and may enter cheese produced by the subsidiary.

    Affineurs are defined as:

    Individuals or Entities that operate within a licensed facility and procure cheese from a Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer (that also operate within a licensed cheese/dairy plant) and:

    1. alter product through additional, specialized maturation with no cutting or dissecting of the original shape and size, or
    2. apply flavors, smearing, or added molds, yeasts, and/or bacteria with no cutting or dissecting of the original shape and size.

    Second Level Producers and Cheese Processors are defined as:

    Individuals or Entities that operate within a licensed facility and procure cheese (including purchasing and using fresh or frozen curd) from a Cheesemaker(s) or Cultured Dairy Producer(s) (that also operates within a licensed cheese/dairy plant) and

    1. Manipulate the shape, consistency or flavor to produce a different product or
    2. Blend multiple cheese or Cultured Dairy Products to produce a different product.

    Co-Packers and Designers are defined as:

    Individuals or Entities that outsource to a licensed Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer (that operate within a licensed cheese/dairy plant) to produce cheese or cultured Dairy Products according to the co- packer’s or designer’s specific recipe and matured in a specific method for a specific period of time.

    Private Labelers are defined as:

    Individuals or Entities that contract with a licensed Cheesemaker or Cultured Dairy Producer to produce cheese or cultured Dairy Products according to the Cheesemaker’s or Cultured Dairy Producer’s original recipe.


    ACS hopes to shine the spotlight on American cheesemakers by showcasing their talents and work as leaders within the industry, both for their excellent cheesemaking and commitment to food safety.

    We celebrate and respect the craft of every cheesemaker who enters the ACS Competition.  It is your individual efforts that continue to collectively advance the quality and character of American cheeses.

    Thank you, again, for your interest in the ACS Judging & Competition!


    If you know other producers who would be interested in entering the Judging & Competition, please let us know, and we will be happy to send them information. If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Heather Tucker or Michelle Lee at the American Cheese Society at (720) 328-2788 or email htucker@cheesesociety.org or mlee@cheesesociety.org and your questions will be forwarded to the Judging & Competition Committee.