“When large government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration want to make controversial policy changes, they often use the major media to launch trial balloons to see how different options play with key constituencies.
That helps explain why both the New York Times and Washington Post came out Saturday with major articles about the FDA’s coming clampdown on raw milk cheese, and its likely trashing of the 60-day rule–the minimum aging of raw milk cheese for commercial sale. This is something I’ve been anticipating for a year now, and the day of the actual restrictions is drawing ever closer—likely within the next few months, according to the FDA’s friends at the major media.
If you read the two articles carefully, though, you find that while they parrot the FDA’s fearmongering, they say nary a word about the real research question that needs to be asked before changing the rule. Before I get to that, here are a few statements from the Washington Post article that give you the underlying FDA pitch:
“The FDA sees greater food-safety risks when food is made on a farm…”
“But because cheese made from raw milk is not heated, regulators worry that the lack of a ‘kill step’ means greater risk of contamination from pathogens that can cause illness.”
“As part of its new emphasis on cheese safety, the FDA is reexamining its rules on raw-milk cheese and is likely to propose changes within the next several months…”
And this from The New York Times article: “The F.D.A. has not tipped its hand, but some in the industry fear that raw milk cheese could be banned altogether or that some types of cheese deemed to pose a higher safety risk could no longer be made with raw milk. Others say they believe the aging period may be extended, perhaps to 90 days. That could make it difficult or impossible for cheesemakers to continue using raw milk for some popular cheese styles, like blue cheese or taleggio-type cheeses, that may not lend themselves to such lengthy aging.”…”