From a recent story on SlashFood blog by Max Shrem titled “Are raw milk cheeses safe?“:
“Are raw-milk cheeses healthful? Recent findings of Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes Listeria, in cheeses from Montesano, Washington’s Estrella Family Creamery in Missouri’s Morningland Dairy unequivocally suggest the contrary. Both dairies, which were inspected by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) officials within the past few months, are going to have a particularly hard time defending their raw-milk cheeses, especially since it’s just the latest raw-milk scare. Just last week, health officials found 25 E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to Bravo Farms’ raw-milk Gouda being sold at Costco stores in Colorado.
“It is definitely possible to make [raw-milk cheese] safely, but you need very good controls all the way through the process,” says another anonymous cheesemaker. “I think you would need to have your own milk supply and the raw-milk supply must be of top quality.” Unfortunately, the FDA is not offering any advice as to how the cheesemaking process needs to be perfected.
But start messing with people’s $22-per-pound raw-milk Camembert … well, now you’re dealing with serious food for more mainstream foodies.
Yet that’s what may be happening. The five-year-old war on raw milk appears to be expanding to include a war on raw cheese.
The American Cheese Society, with more than 1,200 members, mostly from the specialty cheese world, is warning its cheese producers to be on guard for a crackdown by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”In recent weeks the FDA has stepped up audit activity and inspections at creameries around the country,” the organization’s president, Christine Hyatt, wrote in a letter to members last week. She advised them to “be prepared for visits from inspectors, and follow careful internal systems to ensure the quality and safety of your products.”
But raw cheese has become an ever more popular delicacy among even mainstream foodies, and artisanal producers have sprung up in many states, with Vermont and California considered to be centers of production, using not just cow’s milk but sheep and goat milk as well.
The FDA has never been known to take such niceties as consumer taste and nutritional preferences into account in its approaches to such matters, though.
Right now, it seems clear the FDA is amassing “evidence” for the case it will be making in coming months that the 60-day rule on raw cheese is insufficient, and we’d be better off without any raw milk cheeses of any sort. Try spreading that on your French bread.”