Oldways and the Oldways Cheese Coalition are pleased to announce the First Oldways Cheese Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C. on September 15th, 2016. 

The purpose of the conference is to generate a scientific position on the benefits of artisanal and raw milk cheeses, as well as consensus on the best methodologies for producers to ensure their products are safe for human consumption. The consensus will also recognize and celebrate the value of traditional cheesemaking practices to the economy of local communities and individual consumers.

The ultimate goal of the scientific consensus position is:

  • to engage with regulators and legislators about the safety and benefits of artisanal and raw milk cheeses;
  • to propose a consumer friendly scientific-based plan to educate consumers on the benefits of artisanal cheeses and traditional cheesemaking practices.

We also hope to foster a community of like-minded individuals from around the world to promote artisanal cheeses and protect traditional cheesemaking practices.

The conference will be open to the public, and aimed at Congress and Congressional staffs, other legislators, as well as, regulators, media, retailers, cheesemakers, distributors, and importers.

Conference participants will gain knowledge on the advances in academic research in relation to traditional cheesemaking practices, and will be able to engage with scholars working at the forefront of this research.

BACKGROUND:

Since 1999, Oldways has been an advocate for artisanal cheeses and traditional cheesemaking practices. The Oldways Cheese Coalition (OCC) is an international coalition of cheesemakers, retailers, and enthusiasts fighting to preserve the right to enjoy traditional cheeses, including those made with raw milk.

Our mission is to introduce to a greater audience the benefits of traditional cheese, as a food that a) is healthy, b) sustains diverse cultures of producers, and c) is a viable economic alternative for rural communities. We bring a research-based approach to promoting real cheese as a nutritious food that is part of healthy delicious diets around the world.

In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration, along with Health Canada, released a Joint Quantitative Assessment of the Risk of Listeriosis from Soft-Ripened Cheese Consumption in the United States and Canada. At the same time, the FDA requested information from stakeholders for “Understanding Potential Intervention Measures to Reduce the Risk of Foodborne Illness from Consumption of Cheese Manufactured from Unpasteurized Milk.”

A total of 48 public comments were submitted to the FDA, including recommendations from the Oldways Cheese Coalition based on findings from our 2015 Raw Milk Cheese Consumer Consumption and Attitudes Survey, which found that 90% of cheese lovers in the US believe they should be able to choose raw milk cheeses, and that over 50% prefer raw milk cheeses and purchase them regularly. Furthermore, cheese lovers who prefer raw milk cheeses appreciate their probiotic properties (73%), while 86% buy they to support artisan producers.

DETAILS:

Place: Washington, D.C. 

Date: 15 September 2016

Price: TBA

SPONSORS:

Sponsors of the Conference are industry supporters of the Oldways Cheese Coalition, as well as our individual members. Please contact Carlos Yescas, Program Director, to inquire about supporting the OCC and becoming an industry sponsor. 

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:

The conference schedule for the Science and Culture of Traditional Cheese will include four panels, with each panel having three presenters and a chair. At the end of each session, the chair of each group will create a summary of his/her panel. These summaries and presentations will be available through the Oldways Cheese Coalition website.  

At the end of the day’s formal sessions, the conference will close with a Taste-and-Talk reception.

Panel 1: What we know: a review of the scientific literature and current avenues of research

Chair: Catherine Donnelly, PhD, University of Vermont

Coffee Break

Panel 2: What we know: a review of the testing methodologies and gaps in research

Chair: Rachel Dutton, PhD, University of California at San Diego

Lunch: Meet the Maker.

Each table will be chaired by a cheesemaker to share stories and best practices. Presentations will be informal, but will give attendants the opportunity to learn directly from producers.

Panel 3: What can we learn: a look at some of the traditional practices used by cheesemakers.

Co-Chairs: Heather Paxson, PhD, MIT | Carlos Yescas, Program Director, Oldways Cheese Coalition

Panel 4: How can we teach: a conversation with members of our industry and other allies on successful engagement with retailers, regulators, and legislators.

Chair: Sara Baer-Sinnott, President, Oldways

Taste-and-Talk Reception:

The Conference will close with a Taste-and-Talk reception, featuring a festival of cheese organized by themes (raw milk, copper vat, wood board aging, ash rind, cheese mites, etc…). Our aim is to highlight traditional cheesemaking and aging practices regardless of geographical provenance of cheeses and expertise.

Register: To register for the conference and receive updates on panelist and presentations, please sig up for Cheese Matters Quarterly below.