The ACS Judging & Competition strives to achieve the highest level of integrity throughout the judging process by selecting only the most qualified judges.  Each year, the Judging & Competition Committee works diligently to identify and select judges who possess the utmost levels of expertise, ethics, and reliability. This process typically begins in October the year prior to the Competition and concludes in February with a roster of experienced, passionate judges from around the world.

    ACS Judges are food professionals, selected from the academic, dairy industry, dairy science, cultures manufacturing, food retailing, food distributing, and food press communities, as well as the ACS membership.

    ACS celebrates the art of American cheese-making through our annual Judging & Competition which culminates in our Awards Ceremony and Festival of Cheese.  Awards are given 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.


    Our judges work in teams of two: one Technical and one Aesthetic. Technical Judges deduct points for flaws and defects from a perfect score of 50; Aesthetic Judges award points for outstanding characteristics and qualities to a maximum of 50.


    Minimum scores are required to earn awards. Cheeses do not compete “against” each other for awards within categories and subcategories. Standards of excellence apply to all entries. Assuming minimum scores are met, the three highest scores in each category or subcategory will place 1st, 2nd and 3rd. However, it is possible that awards are not earned within a category if no entry achieves a minimum number of points. Ties are allowed only for 2nd and 3rd Place finishers. No ties for 1st Place. (We allow half-point scoring to help reduce the number of ties.)