B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘cheese’ tag

Moronic FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging

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Global Cheese
Global Cheese

What a stupid, short-sighted decision by the Food and Drug Administration! 

A sense of disbelief and distress is quickly rippling through the U.S. artisan cheese community, as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it will not permit American cheesemakers to age cheese on wooden boards.

Recently, the FDA inspected several New York state cheesemakers and cited them for using wooden surfaces to age their cheeses. The New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets’ Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services, which (like most every state in the U.S., including Wisconsin), has allowed this practice, reached out to FDA for clarification on the issue. A response was provided by Monica Metz, Branch Chief of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s (CFSAN) Dairy and Egg Branch.

In the response, Metz stated that the use of wood for cheese ripening or aging is considered an unsanitary practice by FDA, and a violation of FDA’s current Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations.

(click here to continue reading Cheese Underground: Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging.)

As a cheese-eating descender-from-monkeys1 the FDA is making a really stupid mess out things, benefitting a few corporate cheese makers like Kraft and Cabot Creamery at the expense of good cheese made by small businesses. 

In case of emergency break glass
In case of emergency break glass

And to make it even worse, the FDA is seemingly about to ban the import of most cheese from the EU, including Gruyère, and others

Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli says the FDA’s “clarified” stance on using wooden boards is a “potentially devastating development” for American cheesemakers. He and his family have spent the past eight years re-building Roelli Cheese into a next-generation American artisanal cheese factory. Just last year, he built what most would consider to be a state-of-the-art aging facility into the hillside behind his cheese plant. And Roelli, like hundreds of American artisanal cheesemaekrs, has developed his cheese recipes specifically to be aged on wooden boards.

“The very pillar that we built our niche business on is the ability to age our cheese on wood planks, an art that has been practiced in Europe for thousands of years,” Roelli says. Not allowing American cheesemakers to use this practice puts them “at a global disadvantage because the flavor produced by aging on wood can not be duplicated. This is a major game changer for the dairy industry in Wisconsin, and many other states.”

As if this weren’t all bad enough, the FDA has also “clarified” – I’m really beginning to dislike that word – that in accordance with FSMA, a cheesemaker importing cheese to the United States is subject to the same rules and inspection procedures as American cheesemakers. 

Therefore, Cornell University’s Ralyea says, “It stands to reason that if an importer is using wood boards, the FDA would keep these cheeses from reaching our borders until the cheese maker is in compliance. The European Union authorizes and allows the use of wood boards. Further, the great majority of cheeses imported to this country are in fact aged on wooden boards and some are required to be aged on wood by their standard of identity (Comte, Beaufort and Reblochon, to name a few). Therefore, it will be interesting to see how these specific cheeses will be dealt with when it comes to importation into the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Cheese Underground: Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging.)

Stilton with candied lemon peel
Stilton with candied lemon peel

Footnotes:
  1. a/k/a cheese eating surrender monkey – I’m not yet comfortable with my mom’s discovery that our ancestors included French and French Canadian folk; I’ve self-identified as Irish for so long, adding French to the mix might take a while []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 8th, 2014 at 8:41 am