FDA Coming Around To The Idea That Cheese, Microbes, & Mold Can Work Just Fine
by Casey Quackenbush, TIME
Posted: 2017-10-02 15:37:16 EST

Fuzzy ashen mold billows around wheels of cheese stacked on wooden planks at La Ferme de L’Abérieux. Inside its cheese cave nestled in the hills of Cordon, southeastern France, proprietor Albert Bottollier Depois removes one wheel and lowers it to the wide eyes of two children. “Mushrooms,” he says threading his fingers through the cloudy wreath of fungus forming the cheese’s distinctive crust. For a stronger cheese, he’ll even pierce the rind so it seeps in and blooms in the eyes.

This is a Tomme de Savoie, one of France’s most distinguished and sought-after cheeses. And yet it has seesawed on America’s Import Ban list since 2014—alongside Roquefort, Morbier, and St. Nectaire. Some American artisan cheeses have been kept off market shelves too as the FDA struggled for the last two decades to devise regulations over bacteria in raw milk cheese.

Many cheesemakers have been frustrated by the FDA's crusade against microbes, considering them impractical and out of step with international standards. It's “a war against artisan cheese,” says Mateo Kehler, an award-winning cheesemaker from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont and a vocal advocate for his fellow fromager.

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