Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

7 Reasons You Should Be Troubled by the FDAs Cheese-Aging Regulations
New York Magazine ^ | 6/11/14

Posted on 06/11/2014 6:12:37 PM PDT by nickcarraway

It's been a weird few days for people who love good cheese, particularly wheels of American farmstead cheese aged on wooden boards: Last week, it seemed as if the FDA had moved to ban aging cheese on wood, a practice almost as old as coagulated dairy itself and the production aspect that turns Comté into, well, Comté. New York's Department of Agriculture got curious as to why the agency had all of a sudden cited several producers for doing something New York and practically every other state permit, so the FDA replied it was simply enforcing long-standing policy, not doing anything new: Wood, being porous, "cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitized," which sounds bad, and besides, Listeria outbreaks have plagued the cheese industry as recently as March.

If you're more of a Kraft Singles person, carry on; this affects you none whatsoever. But to the rest: The American Cheese Society, which represents artisans and bigger producers alike, is looking to keep affinaging the way it wants to, and the FDA, while it released more detailed information about its position yesterday, is still unsure about the practice. It reiterated that its policy isn't anything new, but again pointed out the subject of food-safe surfaces, the agency has "expressed concern about whether wood meets this requirement and has noted these concerns in inspectional findings." Now, it says, it will "engage with the artisanal cheese-making community to determine whether certain types of cheeses can safely be made by aging them on wooden shelving."

While the agency's position on aging cheese on wooden boards seems to be more clear, it's uncertain whether this will become an eventual focus of industrywide enforcement, or if, as one writer suggested, this particular dairy crisis originated with a letter written with regards to a specific case and everyone's just overreacting.

In any event, cheesemakers have now gotten 9000 percent more vocal on the subject, and many are now turning their attention to American farmstead cheeses and their foreign counterparts, which is kind of cool. If the rules were eventually enforced, here are seven reasons why it would be a huge deal.

1. The rule-tightening could apply to imported cheeses. Bid adieu to "the great majority" of foreign fromage, says Cornell's Rob Ralyea. Rob Kaufelt, owner of Murray's Cheese, tells Grub, "Comté, Beaufort, and others like that would effectively disappear."

2. Small businesses would suffer. Artisans can't compete with factories, and wood aging is their competitive advantage. It "allows them to survive as small players in an agribusiness world," writes cheese pro Gordon Edgar. Moreover, adds Anne Saxelby, owner of Saxelby Cheese, the financial burden of converting someplace like Jasper Hill Farm that "has tons and tons of Cabot cheddar aging on shelves" would be "brutal."

3. Any actual ban would probably be illegal. The citation the FDA uses to defend its attack on wood — Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, 110.40(a) — has nary a mention of wood at all, and though it argues what's going on isn't "a ban," legal experts caution the inadvisability of a move by the FDA that shows disregard for "notice-and-comment rule-making." At Forbes, Greg McNeal invokes an Oliver Wendell Holmes line: "Those regulated by an administrative agency are entitled to 'know the rules by which the game will be played.'"

4. There's not much science backing the FDA up. This fight revolves around its contention that wood grows bad bacteria like Listeria, but critics — who have centuries of tradition on their side — counter that good bacteria, like what live in yogurt, are the point of wood aging. They're ready with studies showing the process is neutral at worst, beneficial at best. Says Saxelby: "There's more listeriosis from pasteurized cheese and deli meat than from wood-aged cheese."

5. Cheese aged on anything else tastes weird, comparatively speaking. "The thing about wood," Saxelby explains, "is it breathes. If you put something on a plastic or metal shelf versus a wood shelf, the stuff that sits on the plastic or metal shelf isn't going to be able to breath and isn't going to ripen properly."

6. The move would favor Big Cheese, where wood-aging is impracticable. "I'm not given to speculation about these kinds of theories, mind you, but some are saying it's maybe because the large producers have been losing market share against what we call 'the good stuff' these days," Kaufelt says, before clarifying: "Though I suspect it's more bureaucratic."

7. Finally, cheesemakers aren't dairy's Appalachian moonshiners. "We use strict testing and sanitary procedures," Kaufelt says. "It's been that way since the beginning, since we first worked with [the Department of Agriculture]. They're strict, and have to be." However, safe food, adds Saxelby, doesn't come "at the stake of the tried-and-true techniques we've used forever."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: cheese; economy; fda; food

1 posted on 06/11/2014 6:12:37 PM PDT by nickcarraway
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
Affirmative-action bureaucrats with IQs of 85 know best.

Just ask Eric Holder. He's one of them.

2 posted on 06/11/2014 6:18:19 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government." --Tacitus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
Do these regulator idiots understand that cheese is basically spoiled milk?

And we really like it and it's good for us.

3 posted on 06/11/2014 6:19:29 PM PDT by colorado tanker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Fundamentally becoming a third world nation one destroyed industry at a time.


4 posted on 06/11/2014 6:21:30 PM PDT by TigersEye ("No man left behind" means something different to 0bama.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
Damn it to Hell! There goes my Bacon and Roquefort Burger! Oh, the humanity!



America demands Justice for the Fallen of Benghazi!

O stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians that we lie here, obedient to their command.

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. (Isaiah 49:1 KJV)

5 posted on 06/11/2014 6:23:03 PM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines RVN 1969 - St. Mlichael the Archangel defend us in Battle!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TigersEye

They came for the cheesemakers, but I was not a cheesemaker, so I kept quiet ...


6 posted on 06/11/2014 6:25:07 PM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but socialists' ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

” Small businesses would suffer. Artisans can’t compete with factories, and wood aging is their competitive advantage.”

This is the reason its being pushed. They seek to control the entire food supply.


7 posted on 06/11/2014 6:25:22 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
The move would favor Big Cheese, where wood-aging is impracticable.

This needs to move up to #1 on the list...

8 posted on 06/11/2014 6:25:26 PM PDT by pgyanke (Republicans get in trouble when not living up to their principles. Democrats... when they do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway; F15Eagle; Larry Lucido

I was living the dream! I was stripped to the waist, eating a block of cheese the size of a car battery!


9 posted on 06/11/2014 6:26:48 PM PDT by Gamecock (#BringTheAdultsBackToDC)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

My local small city (<100K) already lost a high quality jerky producer due to regulations. I hope we don’t also lose our local goat cheese (much more than chèvre style) producer.


10 posted on 06/11/2014 6:27:20 PM PDT by posterchild (It takes a politician to declare a settled science.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Why is wood impractical for ‘big cheese?’ Are oak barrels impractical for ‘big whiskey?’


11 posted on 06/11/2014 6:28:40 PM PDT by posterchild (It takes a politician to declare a settled science.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: posterchild
Why is wood impractical for ‘big cheese?’ Are oak barrels impractical for ‘big whiskey?’

Bigger margin per unit?

12 posted on 06/11/2014 6:30:39 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

The FDA is doing what every out of control bureaucracy in America is currently doing. It’s trying to control every single aspect of our lives to justify their existence. These agencies are basically a shadow government accountable to none.

This is when you have a Congress mainly concerned with being re-elected rather than governing. It’s far easier to hand power over to the unelected bureaucrats of this shadow government under the guise of “regulations” rather than passing laws after open debate that would require them to be accountable to their constituents.


13 posted on 06/11/2014 6:31:15 PM PDT by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Robert A. Cook, PE
Let the FDA proceed with the ban. Then there will be a lot of leftover wooden planks that can be burned to heat up the tar buckets...


14 posted on 06/11/2014 6:31:33 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Settle down Costanza.


15 posted on 06/11/2014 6:34:31 PM PDT by Hammerhead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Robert A. Cook, PE

we will become know as the VELVETTA among Nations!


16 posted on 06/11/2014 6:38:43 PM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
Never heard of Comte et al so wouldn't miss those fancy pantsy cheeses. That said, as long as the customer knows it was made on wood then the government should back off. Same goes for kids’ lemonade stands. Our one and only grocery store carries the plastic Kraft stuff and the store brand of cheddar, mozzarella, colby and sometimes the plastic swiss. And velveeta and canned parm, if those are really cheese. It'd be nice to have more variety.
17 posted on 06/11/2014 6:39:18 PM PDT by bgill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

The reason the FDA is doing this:
1. Somebody wants a payoff
2. Somebody got a payoff


18 posted on 06/11/2014 6:39:57 PM PDT by Flick Lives ("I can't believe it's not Fascism!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: colorado tanker

Do these regulator idiots understand that cheese is basically spoiled milk?

Dude, to my understanding they don’t even let people sell cheese made from raw milk unless it’s aged for 60 days. They figure that the harmful bacteria can’t last that long. Or something. Supposedly that’s why our cheeses aren’t as good, because they try to make the stuff like Camembert that ages for 3 weeks or so with pasteurized milk which isn’t considered as making the best cheese. Or at least that’s what I have heard about it.

Freegards


19 posted on 06/11/2014 6:45:30 PM PDT by Ransomed
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Nanny government sticking its nose in again.


20 posted on 06/11/2014 6:46:27 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Haven't you lost enough freedoms? Support an end to the WOD now.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Flick Lives

Wood is more sanitary than plastic:

http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/1107.html


21 posted on 06/11/2014 6:50:15 PM PDT by Anitius Severinus Boethius (www.wilsonharpbooks.com - Eclipse, the sequel to Bright Horizons is out! Get it now!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Anitius Severinus Boethius
QUICK somebody tell Obama Before he springs Soylent Cheese-Like on us!!


22 posted on 06/11/2014 6:52:47 PM PDT by MeshugeMikey ( "Never, never, never give up". Winston Churchill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

“There’s not much science backing the FDA up.”

There is never any science backint the FDA. They are minions of the Big Drug and Big Agriculture industries. They do what they are told by their ‘financiers’. And remember, the High Muckettymucks at the FDA are there because of a revolving door policy with Big Pharma.


23 posted on 06/11/2014 6:53:28 PM PDT by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a Tea Party descendant...steeped in the Constitutional Republic given to us by the Founders)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: headstamp 2
The FDA is doing what every out of control bureaucracy in America is currently doing. It’s trying to control every single aspect of our lives to justify their existence. These agencies are basically a shadow government accountable to none.

They are glorified jobs programs with an affirmative action slant/ If you want Federal employ it helps to be gay, black, etc etc
Think of today's Federal Gov't as a vast hiring hall for useless eaters

Their job depends on over-regulating you and regulating you out of existence if it means a bonus or raise

24 posted on 06/11/2014 6:54:12 PM PDT by dennisw (The first principle is to find out who you are then you can achieve anything -- Buddhist monk)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

who cut the cheese man


25 posted on 06/11/2014 6:59:04 PM PDT by kvanbrunt2 (civil law: commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong Blackstone Commentaries I p44)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bgill

Fine cheese is an acquired taste.
Much like powerful hot sauce.
Or Asian fish sauce.
But the taste CAN be acquired.
And the appreciation crosses classes, at least in Europe.
Americans generally haven’t picked up on the art & science of it.


26 posted on 06/11/2014 7:00:18 PM PDT by buwaya
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: driftdiver

“They seek to control the entire food supply.”

Yep, that’s exactly what they are doing and it’s a step by step progression.

They are targeting the food “rich” people buy first.

They have also made moves, mainly in the form of comments so far, to target the food that people that don’t depend on “supermarkets” to buy.

Farmers markets, roadside produce stands, you pick your own, and other niche food producers.


27 posted on 06/11/2014 7:01:38 PM PDT by IMR 4350
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Oh GOOD!

Another BS “rule” I can violate with impunity.

Can’t wait to milk those dwarf goats!


28 posted on 06/11/2014 7:03:50 PM PDT by G Larry (Which of Obama's policies do you think I'd support if he were white?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: colorado tanker

Decisions made by people who were raised eating Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops for breakfast, and have never seen a farm, a winery, or aging cheese.

Their idea of good cheese is a box of Macaroni and Cheese, the paper bag of powder you melt in when the macaroni is done. They are first in line at the Hot Dog King. If the cheese comes on a pizza it must be good....anything else is too scary to try.


29 posted on 06/11/2014 7:07:09 PM PDT by Kackikat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Government cheese, indeed.


30 posted on 06/11/2014 7:09:27 PM PDT by americas.best.days... ( I think we can now say that they are behind us.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kackikat

“Their idea of good cheese is a box of Macaroni and Cheese, the paper bag of powder you melt in when the macaroni is done.”

I like the instant mac’n’cheese once in a while. But I like really good cheese once in a while too, and wish they would let people make it the best way for me to get and eat.

Freegards


31 posted on 06/11/2014 7:21:27 PM PDT by Ransomed
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Cheese is a great discovery, and a sure sign of civilization, like the discovery of wine and beer, or the growing of rice.

It is controlled spoilage which acts a method of preserving food. The principle is that good, selected microbes keep out the others, and help prevent the total degradation of the food. Korean fermented kim-chi uses the same principle, and enabled the ancient Koreans to have a preserved source of Vitamin C all through the winter.

Good, smelly cheese is a delight. Artificial “processed” cheese (which I am ashamed to say is sometimes called American cheese), especially that coming in separately wrapped slices, is simply not the real thing.

Try Liederkranz from Wisconsin. Let it age for about four to six weeks after you buy it, until it starts softening and turning yellow. It is one of life’s great pleasures.


32 posted on 06/11/2014 7:25:25 PM PDT by docbnj
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway
but, but, i thought RATS like cheese???
33 posted on 06/11/2014 7:26:06 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY - 86-44)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

The FDA has annoumce it will work with Cheese makers to clarify the rules. This is being done thanks to harmful bacteria outbreaks like listeria. I did some research and the FDA has announced they aren’t citing people for having wooden curing boards.

Our cheese is fine, for now, be we should stay on this and make sure the rules get fixed for cheese makers


34 posted on 06/11/2014 7:42:48 PM PDT by drunknsage
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: docbnj
Try Liederkranz from Wisconsin. Let it age for about four to six weeks after you buy it, until it starts softening and turning yellow. It is one of life’s great pleasures.

Bear with me. The Liederkranz ("wreath of song") I recall was made in Van Wert, OH -- in a plant that dated to around 1960. Prior to that, it had been made somewhere in New York state.

When Borden Foods bought the brand, they built the new plant in Ohio and transferred production there -- but, for some reason, couldn't duplicate the product. Eventually, they tried smearing the machinery and the walls with the old product made in New York -- then they locked up and left for the weekend.

Voila!!!

When they cranked the operation back up on Monday, true Liederkranz was the result -- they had re-introduced the original bacteria into the equation.

Ah, memories of a fishing boat, on a 30 A farm pond, a saltine cracker, a slice of onion, a smear of Liederkranz...and a cold beer. Heaven on earth, "wreath of song", indeed.

Perhaps Liederkranz has been sold again and moved to Wisconsin -- in which case they would've had to do the smear the new plant. I know I haven't seen any in the supermarket in several years...

35 posted on 06/11/2014 7:44:33 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: Ignorance on parade.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Nobody question der Leader! Eat your Velveeta cheeze-stuff
and stop whining!


36 posted on 06/11/2014 8:00:15 PM PDT by Minutemen ("It's a Religion of Peace")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

Okay, I’m troubled.


37 posted on 06/11/2014 8:14:22 PM PDT by Tax-chick (When the truth finally dawns, it dawns in fire!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: okie01
I get Limburger and a delectable Tilsit at Whole Foods. YUM!!
38 posted on 06/11/2014 8:27:31 PM PDT by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Ransomed

I like the real cheese...Homemade Mac n Cheese.


39 posted on 06/11/2014 8:40:13 PM PDT by Kackikat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: okie01

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liederkranz_cheese


40 posted on 06/11/2014 8:48:58 PM PDT by narses (Matthew 7:6. He appears to have made up his mind let him live with the consequences.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: pgyanke
Airplane II Big Cheese
41 posted on 06/11/2014 8:52:59 PM PDT by sayfer bullets (“I didn’t leave the [---] party, the [---] party left me.” - Ronald Reagan)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Kackikat

Oh yeah, that’s good too.

Freegards


42 posted on 06/11/2014 9:38:52 PM PDT by Ransomed
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: beef

I absolutely LOVE Tilsit. My co-workers however are less than impressed when I bring a block in, as it (and I quote):
“Makes the lunchroom smell like a high-school locker room 9 weeks into the semester, and NOBODY has washed their strip!”

I told them that if they want to bring soups in that make me nauseous, turnabout is fair play.


43 posted on 06/11/2014 11:10:26 PM PDT by Don W (To laugh, perhaps to dream...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

I would say that the citations are probably the result of one person not fully understanding the regulations, and not the result of some FDA policy change.

There was a large listeriosis outbreak in 1988 which was traced to “Mexican-style” cheese being contaminated with raw milk. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198809293191303 The outbreak had nothing to do with curing. Listeriosis in cheese is usually associated with the use of raw milk. It is also associated with soft cheeses. Aging a cheese past 60 days causes the listeria bacteria to die.

There would be reason to ban aging on wood platforms, if disease outbreaks could be traced back to the practice. But they have not.


44 posted on 06/12/2014 3:33:30 AM PDT by exDemMom (Current visual of the hole the US continues to dig itself into: http://www.usdebtclock.org/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nickcarraway

I age my little cheeses on bamboo mats.

The FDA has already given US cheeses a disadvantage, flavor wise, by forcing us to use pasteurized milk for cheeses aged less than 60 days.


45 posted on 06/13/2014 7:17:59 AM PDT by yorkiemom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: buwaya

more and more people are buying the fancier cheeses....yes, we buy the brick cheese for mac and cheese, and when serving large numbers of people...but then we get the good stuff for ourselves....like Cougar Gold...or Dubliners...


46 posted on 06/13/2014 11:04:33 AM PDT by cherry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson