Over a decade ago, the then Cheese of Choice Coalition sponsored an unbiased review of the FDA's Domestic and Imported Cheese Compliance Program's findings. This was the federal sampling program that sought quantitative data regarding the risk profile of raw milk cheese in relationship to possible regulatory changes. Out of that review, came an important industry White Paper. After this independent analysis and the Coalition's outspoken activism, the FDA's review of raw milk regulations lost priority status and our community retained the right to choose their cheese of choice.
The authors, current OCC academic advisory committee members Dr. Catherine Donnelly and Dr. Dennis D'amico, found that from 2004-2006 with a total of 17,324 cheese samples, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes were present .09 - 2.4 percent of the time. Of those that tested positive 60% came from Mexico or Central America. Many of those cheeses had entered the US without the proper paper work and were not sold in sanitary conditions. The final findings suggested that overall incidences of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes decreased over the sampling period concluding that control and regulatory compliance had increased. S. Aureus was the most common target pathogen in cheese but its presence it is very rarely great enough to be a health risk.
Want to read the original White Paper or to learn more about the safety and health of traditional cheese? Our resources section has a growing number of peer-reviewed articles confirming that not only does traditional cheese taste good but it's good for your health as well.
Your membership ensures that we continue researching on traditional cheeses and promoting its benefits.
-Carlos Yescas - Oldways Cheese Coalition Program Director