The latest ruling on cheesemaking literally stinks, and most Americans aren’t going to be happy about it.
As most of us are focused on the fight against processed foods, the Food and Drug Administration appears to be fighting for processed foods — at least as far as cheese goes.
Hundreds of small business owners and artisanal cheesemakers were left aghast at a landmark executive decree from the FDA, which would ban the traditional method of aging cheese on wooden boards. Most cheese that isn’t manufactured is aged by placing it on wooden boards, a centuries-old practice with relatively few documented health conflicts or concerns. However, the FDA, after citing numerous code violations (and yet a lack of any scientific research) has decided to forgo its usual comment-rule making process, instead issuing this statement:
“The porous structure of wood enables it to absorb and retain bacteria, therefore bacteria generally colonize not only the surface but also the inside layers of wood. The shelves or boards used for aging make direct contact with finished products; hence they could be a potential source of pathogenic microorganisms in the finished products.”
However, the FDA has stated that, "Wooden shelves or boards cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitized" which is where scientific research has proven that claim wrong. As stated in the research paper, "Future Uses of Wooden Boards for Aging Cheeses,” which was written in 2013 by experts Bénédicte Coudé & Dr. Bill Wendorff, “The present study shows that the use of wooden shelves does not affect the hygienic safety of cheeses if such shelves are in good repair and are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by heat treatment.”
So, the FDA is acting without legal authority here. How is that even allowed?
In the past, the FDA has used a “comment rule-making" process, which is basically a democratic way to bring about public discussion on a particular issue before making any sort of final ruling. In this case, the FDA didn’t use this process and just went ahead and banned the aging process with little intention of repealing it, which is what has left so many in the cheesemaking industry and the general public in shock.
Actually, most of the cheeses made by this particular process of aging are European and Canadian. The Cato Institute pointed out that the “ban cheese aged on wooden boards could potentially shut out the bulk of imports from Europe” in their aptly titled article “Did the FDA just ban European cheese?” As it appears, yes, along with some Canadian cheeses as well.
Kraft Foods won’t be hurt by this, and neither will Leprino Foods, the world’s largest mozzarella cheese producer. Kraft and Leprino are not cheesemakers, they are cheese manufacturers, which means that they don’t use the traditional artisan techniques.
As Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli told Cheese Underground, the FDA’s recent ruling is a “potentially devastating development” for American cheesemakers. Numerous news outlets have called upon the FDA to bring the comment-ruling process back and allow the public (and the small businesses that make them) to fight to keep the foods they love.
This is some BULLSHIT. The FDA made a completely nonsensical ruling with NO basis, against the science, and in the interests of no one but large corporate food manufacturing companies. We have real serious problems in our food supply (like, instance, these same corporate players being given a pass on how the run their plants) but they do stuff like this?
Of course this has a lot in common with our current net neutrality issue in that there’s a revolving door between trhe offices of the FDA and the directors of Monsanto, Kraft, etc.
So now we’re losing a perfectly safe, natural, healthy, nutritious product for processed trash.