We regularly posts updates on regulatory issues related to traditional cheesemaking practices or on other matters that may affect them in the future. This section aims to be proactive rather than reactive, arming industry members and cheese enthusiasts with valuable background information should concerns arise. Useful links to primary regulatory and scientific documents are included.
Please connect with us if you have any questions, comments, or would generally like to weigh in. Supporters may commission articles on specific topics or petition research on a special issue.
Because of the close association of raw milk with the animal environment, low levels of E. coli may be present in raw milk or products made from raw milk, even when properly produced using Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). It must be made clear that the occasional presence of nontoxigenic E. coli in cheese is largely unavoidable, though with careful animal husbandry and conscious cheesemaking practices levels can be significantly reduced. It is also clear that some presence of generic E. coli in cheese is not necessarily suggestive of compromised raw materials and, this must be emphasized, the non-toxigenic variety does not present a risk to consumer’s health.
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
Despite much popular misunderstanding, not only is cheese delicious, it’s nutritious. Scientific studies reveal that when consumed in moderation, cheese is a delicious way to add healthy fats, minerals, vitamins, and probiotics to your diet. Cheese serves as an important source of high-quality protein, fortified vitamin A and D, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Cheese is not just good for your bones and teeth, but also your heart, metabolism, and yes, even your waistline. Next we present how cheese can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
RAW MILK CHEESE
Raw-milk cheese is chronically misunderstood by policy makers and the public alike. Its regulation and safety has been a topic of heated debate for much of the last century. The Cheese of Choice Coalition was initially founded in 1999 to represent the interests of producers and consumers of raw-milk cheese at a time when legislative changes threatened to eliminate the long-standing regulatory exception for raw-milk cheese and to potentially criminalize it outright. A vital part of our mission continues to emphasize the quality and safety of raw milk cheese and to ensure that consumers have the right to choose their cheese of choice. As pioneering cheese retailer and author Steve Jenkins has famously said, to be denied that freedom would be to “wipe out one of the most beautiful and romantic links between human beings and the earth that we will ever know, and we are going to be the lesser for it.”y agree that fluid raw milk and raw-milk cheese have categorically different food safety profiles. Illness resulting from commercially sold raw-milk cheese is exceedingly rare. The CDC reported 122 incidents of dairy-related illness from 1993-2006 (7). Only 27 of those 122 involved raw-milk cheese, while 38 were a result of cheese that had been pasteurized. The frequency of incident linked to pasteurized cheese reflects the fact that most contamination occurs post-processing. According to the CDC report, only two fatalities were linked to unpasteurized dairy products over the 14 year span, and, although the report does not clearly indicate the origin, it is far more likely that these were a result of fluid milk or cottage industry than from commercially-sold raw-milk cheese.
This hot topic article explores the scientific literature related to traditional cheesemaking equipment, specifically cheesemaking vats. It pays special attention to the capacity of wood and copper technologies to produce safe, healthy and hygienic food products on a consistent basis. Despite increased scrutiny, the literature reveals that traditional technology is not a food safety concern and, contrary to regulatory skepticism, traditional materials may, in fact, improve the microbiological quality of the cheeses. Attention is also paid to the role of traditional technology in ensuring unique cheeses of high sensory and organoleptic quality.
Aging cheese on wooden boards (commonly oak, spruce, and pine) is a vital part of the cheesemaking process in many cheesemaking regions, and has been in some cases for more than a thousand years. Many prominent and well-respected cheeses such as Beaufort, Comte, Gruyere, Roquefort, and Parmigiano-Reggiano in fact mandate that their cheese be matured for a specific period of time on wooden boards in order to receive the right to be branded with the seals of quality those names evoke. The tradition of artisan cheesemaking in America has drawn largely from the European example and thus the vast majority of domestically made cheeses are aged on wooden boards.