Albo refuses to bite on rebranded cheese

Cheese brand Coon will disappear from supermarkets in July, when it will be known as 'Cheer'.
Cheese brand Coon will disappear from supermarkets in July, when it will be known as 'Cheer'.

Anthony Albanese has declined to buy into a backlash against the renaming of iconic Australian cheese brand Coon.

The federal opposition leader was peppered with questions about the rebadged Cheer cheese during a talkback radio interview but refused to entertain any prospect of a reactionary culture war.

The product was originally named after an American cheesemaker, but the name was also a racial slur.

Mr Albanese said while he did not agree with rewriting history or the controversy surrounding certain statues, he had no objection to the new name.

"Frankly, I think it is a commercial decision by the company and fair enough," he told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.

"Certainly it was named after some American cheesemaker ... it certainly isn't named after any eulogising of a racist term.

"But the good news is the cheese will be the same, it'll taste the same, and I think everyone will know it's the same product."

Mr Albanese said the company was clearly motivated by selling more cheese: "And good luck to them."

"This is something that will come and go," he said.

The decision by owner Saputo Dairy follows a review that considered "current attitudes and perspectives" after community objections to the original name.

"Our decision to change the name of Australia's much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging," the company said.

The new name, Cheer, was chosen because it signals happiness.

The rebranded cheese, which has been sold in Australia since the 1930s, will hit supermarket shelves in July.

Australian Associated Press