They’re coming for your cheese

In much of Europe, fresh, raw milk cheeses are available and loved by cheese connoisseurs. In the US the FDA requires raw milk cheeses to be aged for at least 60 days prior to sale, which limits our options but is better than nothing. David Gumpert reports that now even that option may be taken away from us:

According to a report in an industry publication, Cheese Reporter, a top dairy official at the FDA, Stephen Sundlof, director of its Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) believes that the 60-day aging period “is not effective in reducing pathogens in raw milk cheeses.” There needs to be “some other risk management steps” that could be applied. Sundlof said at a dairy conference last month. What makes him think that the 60-day period isn’t effective in reducing pathogens? A little birdie must have told him so.

A change in the aging period regulation could put a crimp on production of a number of raw milk soft cheeses like brie and camembert, among others. Some producers already struggle with the 60-day aging requirement, since certain cheeses are best sold sooner than that, and letting them age for 60 days simply reduces their viable shelf lives.

Moreover, the FDA isn’t proposing to extend the aging period, but rather to require processing of the milk, including pasteurization of milk for certain cheeses.

Unfortunately the Cheese Reporter story is no longer at the link so I have few details, but this looks like another overreaction from the FDA.

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