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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The FDA Wants to Take Our Cheese Away: WTF?!?!?

Posted by on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Moved up with UPDATE!!! The FDA is backing down—our cheese is no longer under threat, at least for the moment, after public outcry. That's us! You are all goddamned awesome.

Are you ready for a world of Kraft instead of craft? BECAUSE I AM FUCKING NOT.
  • cynoclub/Shutterstock
  • Are you ready for a world of Kraft instead of craft? BECAUSE I AM FUCKING NOT.

My dad told me once that I should save profanity for when it really matters (in writing, that is—our whole family curses like sailors while speaking), and now is the time: The FDA can't keep our food supply safe, but has time for this TOTAL BULLSHIT...

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an executive decree banning the centuries old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards. One bureaucrat within the FDA, without surveying all of the scientific literature, and without public commentary, has rattled hundreds of small businesses across the United States. Consumers who eat any kind of aged cheese should prepare for a potentially catastrophic disruption in the market for artisan, non-processed cheese.

The FDA’s decision will not only harm American cheese makers, but may also bring a halt to the importation of artisan cheeses from abroad...

I feel the urge to boldface every word of the quote above... this is UNFUCKINGREAL. Here's more on this SUPREME ASSHATTERY.

The FDA's website is pretty damn opaque about who to contact there about such issues as SAVE OUR CHEESE GODDAMNIT, and their media office is on Eastern time and currently closed. I suggest for now that we all email the President, and refrain from profanity even though we're MAD AS HELL AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.

 

Comments (72) RSS

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72
cows cause global warming

a carbon tax hex on all ya'll cheese
Posted by alfresco on June 12, 2014 at 5:45 PM · Report this
71
@70 That's great. You go do that.

But the problem is when you then decide to go and SELL that shit on a mass scale. And eventually it becomes more profitable to cut corners and jeopardize people's health. So you stop being careful. Which is what happens in a neoliberal society like ours.

What you are arguing then is for a libertarian pure market forces driven society. And that is proven - time and time again - to be disastrous.
Posted by tkc on June 12, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
70
#61 So you do think the government should treat adults like children? Stupid people shouldn't get to decide things for themselves? If I want to drink unpasteurized milk or eat unwashed lettuce or hired a stranger to drive me somewhere or get my hair cut by someone without a license why should the government step in? Should they require me to wipe my ass or wash my hands afterwards? At 45 (or when I was 22) can't I make that decision? Shouldn't you be able to do so?
Posted by hist_ed on June 11, 2014 at 11:22 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 69
@52: you're seriously asserting that America is unhealthy due to cheese? and replacing that source of protein/fat in our diets with BERRIES?

Americans are giant diabetic lard asses due to CARBOHYDRATES AND SUGAR.

Not fat from delicious, delicious cheese.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 68
@ 67, my milk-guzzling daughter would disagree. So would I, as ice cream and frozen custard make life worth living. But cheese is right there with it.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 11, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Report this
67
I am glad this was a big bunch of hooey. I live about 50 minutes from the Ambassador Bridge, and was worried I was going to have to become the Al Capone of cheese smugglers, packing all kinds of fine artisinal cheeses in boxes of Sleeman's as I came back from my trips to Ontario. Cheese is truly the only decent thing that dairy does.
Posted by Mindymoo on June 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM · Report this
66
66: Nice to see Snopes is now required when reading the Slog.
Posted by Jizzlobber on June 11, 2014 at 11:04 AM · Report this
65
Apocalyptic Cheeseghazi... AVERTED... er... never happened in the first place!
Posted by tkc on June 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM · Report this
64
Fuck this post was lame.

Moved up with UPDATE!!! The FDA is backing down—our cheese is no longer under threat, at least for the moment, after public outcry. That's us! You are all goddamned awesome.


Horseshit, Bethany. There was no controversy in the first place. Another typical fact-absent internet hyperbolic over reaction.

What the FDA themselves stated:

“The FDA does not have a new policy banning the use of wooden shelves in cheese-making, nor is there any FSMA requirement in effect that addresses this issue. Moreover, the FDA has not taken any enforcement action based solely on the use of wooden shelves...”


Had you actually gone to the FDA and done some research - like a journalist, instead of just copy and pasted some nonsense from another just as breathless internet tabloid, you would have known this.

Good christ.
Posted by tkc on June 11, 2014 at 9:42 AM · Report this
fletc3her 63
That was a rough twenty four hours.
Posted by fletc3her on June 11, 2014 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Collin 62
@40 - The shift to screw top has been a decision by the manufacturers to prevent inventory loss due to improper sealing. There's been no government mandate. Screw tops are just more reliable, and the benefits of cork has been overstated.
Posted by Collin on June 11, 2014 at 9:08 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 61
FDA has backed down, per Forbes.

@ 60, while I would agree in this case, there are too many other instances of human stupidity for your point to be valid im general.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 11, 2014 at 8:43 AM · Report this
60
This is what comes of the philosophy that grown ups can't decide things for themselves. The state must act in the role of parent to poor benighted children because we ain't smart enough to decide whether the tiny or imaginary risk is worth taking.
Posted by hist_ed on June 11, 2014 at 7:55 AM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 59
realfarmacy.com is one of those clickbait sites that give out bad information, misinformation, or straight up lies as long as it drives ad revenue. Is there a better source?
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on June 11, 2014 at 7:34 AM · Report this
58
#1, Dude, lay off the drugs. Sigh, I've always thought from your Gay dude for raindrip days that you were perhaps a decent but starving Uni student or recent graduate, getting paid pittance to do a shitty job. We've all been there, thanks to greedy old men squeezing every dollar they can out of our educational system, to add to the piles they're hoarding overseas. But this! I'm concerned.

Stop watching faux news, it's melting your brain.

You're welcome.
Posted by iseult on June 11, 2014 at 6:28 AM · Report this
57
YOU GUYS. Don't worry: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcnea…
Posted by citadelsz on June 11, 2014 at 12:32 AM · Report this
56
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/1…

http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/facult…

"If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface."
Posted by idaho on June 11, 2014 at 12:02 AM · Report this
55
really, the realfarmacy is your news source? wow, the stranger is lacking credible information these days based on who they follow. so if you'd like to update your idiot column, here's the actual fucking information provided by the FDA:

http://cheeseunderground.blogspot.com/20…
Posted by dormant ecoli on June 10, 2014 at 10:37 PM · Report this
54
really, the realfarmacy is your news source? wow, the stranger is lacking credible information these days based on who they follow. so if you'd like to update your idiot column, here's the actual fucking information provided by the FDA:

http://cheeseunderground.blogspot.com/20…
Posted by dormant ecoli on June 10, 2014 at 10:35 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 53
@44,

Ricotta salata is barely aged.

In any event, it seems like a common sense measure against contamination is to test the cheese for listeria before it's sent out to consumers and to make it clear to pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems not to eat aged cheese, rather than effectively banning a culinary art that dates back centuries. What's the FDA's next act? Ban all rare meat, all carpaccio, steak tartare, sushi, and smoked meat/fish because people with compromised immune systems are too lazy to read warning labels?
Posted by keshmeshi on June 10, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Report this
raku 52
This would be a very good opportunity for a program to assist cheesemakers and dairy farmers to convert their skills for something beneficial. Other countries have done so with incredible public health effects.

Example-- In the 1970's, Finland had even higher heart disease rates and lower life expectancy than the USA. So the government instituted a "dairy to berries" program to help cow farmers switch to berry farming. Heart disease and cancer rates dropped off a cliff and life expectancy shot up 7 years.

Today, if the USA did something like this, it would help incredibly with life expectancy, chronic health problems and costs, and be a massive help to greenhouse gases and deforestation.

Good 2 minute video on Finland's success with "dairy to berries": http://nutritionfacts.org/video/dietary-…
Posted by raku on June 10, 2014 at 9:26 PM · Report this
51
Everyone chill, nothing has happened as of yet. The Anerican Cheese Society has issued a statement and the FDA has responded in part, but currently there is no ban on the table.
Please keep calm and let's see where this actually goes.
Posted by Sheri L. on June 10, 2014 at 8:56 PM · Report this
50
Let's see... approximately 72 unintentional child gun deaths per year in the USA and 3,000 foodborne illness deaths a year (15% from dairy and eggs according to the attribution).
http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/

But, the food writers covet their moldy cheese boards so "the horror".
Posted by ChefJoe on June 10, 2014 at 8:55 PM · Report this
49
@48- not to mention that the same GOP electorate just kicked cantor to the curb for being too soft on the wetbacks... And they're going to elect the Spanish speaking scion of the man they now insist was a big spending librul?
Laughable. Raindrip is such a tool.
Posted by Pol Pot on June 10, 2014 at 8:55 PM · Report this
48
@43 Yes, we need more war criminals from the Bush family. Ugh!
Posted by Unexpected Productions on June 10, 2014 at 8:46 PM · Report this
47
@44- cheese isn't the only source of listeria poisoning, nor even the most prominent source. One can contract listeria from from raw unwashed vegetables, undercooked meats or from pre sliced, packaged deli meats.
In cheese production, the listeria comes from the use of raw milk. It is rare for aged cheeses to have any listeria content present at the end of the aging process. Very, very rare, in fact. Good cheeses are alive with good bacteria, and a healthy micro-Eco-system will not allow for the proliferation of pathogens such as listeria. There have been experiments where both pasteurized and nonpasterized cheese have been inoculated with E. coli, for example, and the E. coli thrived in the pasteurized version, but quickly became undetectable in the raw milk cheese.
All of this is irrelevant to the wooden boards used in cheese aging, however. I don't know that the FDA could point to any incidence of transmission in this manner. I have never heard of such a case. There is no known danger from this that I am aware of, and I have been selling such cheeses now for 15 years.
Yes, I'm a professional cheesemonger.
As such, I do have some inkling as to what goes on in the production of said cheeses.
This is by no means the first time the FDA and the USDA and our friends at US Customs have overreacted to alleged threats from cheese. Recently, they effectively banned mimolette because they suddenly noticed that it is covered in cheese mites. Mimolette, and other natural rind cheeses, have ALWAYS been covered in cheese mites. But suddenly, OH MY GOD, CHEESE MITES,!!! Never mind that they are normal, not pathogens themselves nor carriers of pathogens.
Listeria is serious shit. You don't want to get it. But if the FDA was actually worried about it, they would ban pre sliced deli meats. That is the more likely source of infection in the US. wooden aging boards? Nah.
More...
Posted by Pol Pot on June 10, 2014 at 8:34 PM · Report this
46
FSMA at work
Posted by FoodIndustryPro on June 10, 2014 at 8:03 PM · Report this
yelahneb 45
@14 thank for that.
Posted by yelahneb http://www.strangebutharmless.com on June 10, 2014 at 7:50 PM · Report this
fletc3her 44
The FDA isn't completely in left field here. There have been listeria outbreaks tied to cheese, and deaths from those listeria outbreaks.

In 2013 the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company recalled their Les Freres cheeses for listeria. Six people were hospitalized and one death was reported. These cheeses were cave-aged, washed rind cheeses. I haven't found enough information to know where the listeria came from in the manufacturing or aging process, but it's possible this is the case that has spurred this current action.

http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/ch…

In April of this year cheese from Roos foods was recalled for listeria. Seven people were hospitalized and one death was reported. This was "queso fresco" so probably wasn't aged.

http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/ch…

In 2012 Forever Cheese Inc. recalled imported Frescolina Marte cheese from Italy for listeria. Twenty people were hospitalized and four deaths were reported. This was again an aged cheese.

http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/ch…
Posted by fletc3her on June 10, 2014 at 7:49 PM · Report this
raindrop 43
@39: Jeb, no doubt about it.
Posted by raindrop on June 10, 2014 at 7:47 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 42
I scrub/rinse my wooden cutting boards in 140 degree water, and spray them with a 1:1 mixture of vinegar/water and let them air dry. If whatever I've been doing involved an unusual amount of carnage, I spray them with bleach water. But mostly that just makes me feel virtuous.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on June 10, 2014 at 7:42 PM · Report this
venomlash 41
Cheese Louise.
Posted by venomlash on June 10, 2014 at 7:29 PM · Report this
40
They took our corks away.

Now I get even moderately priced quality wines with a twist off.

Wood isn't the greatest thing...I've gotten ill several times from wooden cutting boards. I've switched to all plastic. Yeah, I know. BPA.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 10, 2014 at 7:25 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 39
I'm just curious as to who you think will be the next President, Raindrip. And everyone knows fondue between Memorial Day and Labor Day is just tacky.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on June 10, 2014 at 7:24 PM · Report this
38
In fact, the EU has banned using wooden boards to age cheeses for many years. Some producers still use them, but illicitly.
Posted by cheakamus on June 10, 2014 at 7:20 PM · Report this
raindrop 37
@35, typo aside, just what are you trying to get at with such a rhetorical question? You should be more concerned about your next Fondue party.
Posted by raindrop on June 10, 2014 at 7:18 PM · Report this
COMTE 36
@35:

Well, it looks like Eric Cantor is going to have plenty of time to build a campaign for the next couple of years...
Posted by COMTE on June 10, 2014 at 7:12 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 35
Who will that be, Raindrip?
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on June 10, 2014 at 7:03 PM · Report this
34
@9 therefore rich people eat aged cheese
Posted by Foonken2 on June 10, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
raindrop 33
@32: The next Republican president.
Posted by raindrop on June 10, 2014 at 6:29 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 32
Raindrip dear, just who will be revoking the executive orders?
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on June 10, 2014 at 6:26 PM · Report this
meanie 31
If it saves one life, its worth it.
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on June 10, 2014 at 6:17 PM · Report this
raindrop 30
@17: Good point. Most executive orders this president has made will be revoked 1/20/2017. Thanks.
Posted by raindrop on June 10, 2014 at 6:02 PM · Report this
29
@18: The whole issue is prospective at this point, smartass.

"Consumers who eat any kind of aged cheese should prepare for a potentially catastrophic disruption in the market for artisan, non-processed cheese.

The FDA’s decision will not only harm American cheese makers"

Also, you are trying to equate two different modalities of "may" - the deontic (permissive) and the epistemic (probability). #notallmays #cheese&grammarsrsbzns
Posted by MemeGene on June 10, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
28
#notallwood
Posted by MemeGene on June 10, 2014 at 5:51 PM · Report this
27
Now I'm confused.


We know.
Here. Let me help clear it up for you:

You're a moron.

That's why you're always confused.
Posted by tkc on June 10, 2014 at 5:40 PM · Report this
26
Well. I only hope that the Congressional Republicans can form yet another special investigative commission into Obamas obvious attempt at crippling the US's strategic artisanal cheese supply.

And then another special committee to investigate the subsequent, but yet to happen, cover up of said cheese tampering. How deep does this go?

When will Obama tell us the truth about Cheeseghazi!
Posted by tkc on June 10, 2014 at 5:37 PM · Report this
25
@6 - Thank you.
Posted by Calpete on June 10, 2014 at 5:35 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 24
But.... I thought more Federal regualtion is a good thing and that the Obama admin can do no wrong.

Now I'm confused.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on June 10, 2014 at 5:32 PM · Report this
reading_theStranger 23
@11 well played
Posted by reading_theStranger on June 10, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
22
Thumbs up #17!
Posted by cmuberti on June 10, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
21
I thought liberals loved regulation?
Posted by Who moved my cheese? on June 10, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 20
Y'know, a trigger warning on this post would have been nice.

Threats to artisanal cheese provoke serious feelings of anxiety among those of us who faced the childhood tragedy of artisanal cheese scarcity.

#yesalldairy
Posted by kitschnsync on June 10, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
19
Seriously. How many people have gotten sick from cheese on wood in the past 400 years? This blows.
Posted by cmuberti on June 10, 2014 at 5:28 PM · Report this
18
@15 "May." Cheese gods save us from the ever speculative waffle-word "may."

As of today you "may" get as much imported artisanal cheese as you want.

"May" I predict this current FDA restriction will last all of six months?
Posted by tkc on June 10, 2014 at 5:27 PM · Report this
treacle 17
@1 - You really assume "the president" has more capabilities & power than he actually has.
Lame Political Point: Fail.

I think this issue will resolve itself, largely. I remember hearing about a similar effort about 8 years back. I doubt it will turn into anything substantial in the end.

Either that, or this is a Distraction Issue, that is being launched in order to provide cover for a situation where Americans are about to lose even more rights.

What's happening in Congress these days? Any critical vote going down that needs to be obfuscated?
Posted by treacle on June 10, 2014 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
This is going to completely shut down the hugely successful and growing artisanal cheesemaking industry in this country. That sucks. Big-time jobkiller too.

But what I really want to know is, is Eric Cantor going to lose his seat IN THE PRIMARY TO A TEA PARTY NUTCASE???? Signs point to "yes". The AP has called it.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on June 10, 2014 at 5:23 PM · Report this
15
@12: "The FDA’s decision will not only harm American cheese makers, but may also bring a halt to the importation of artisan cheeses from abroad"
Posted by MemeGene on June 10, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
14
And shut that bloody bouzouki player up!
Posted by originalcinner on June 10, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Report this
13
@1- well, I guess one positive aspect of having shit for brains is that Hannibal Lecter will never kill you with the intent of gorging on your diseased cerebellum, so, uh... lucky you.
Posted by Pol Pot on June 10, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Report this
12
BTW - This only effects American cheese makers. You will still be able to buy all the imported artisanal cheeses you want. Which, frankly, are better anyway.

There has been an explosion of hipster foodie artisanal food products out there skirting health and safe codes. The FDA is attempting to make a rather poor stand here on the deregulation pressures in the food industry. Many of which HAVE had catastrophic impacts to American health. The FDA is over-reacting. But a stand should be taken at some point. Just not here.
Posted by tkc on June 10, 2014 at 5:15 PM · Report this
11
The FDA took my Feta away
They took it away, took it away
An' I don't know if I wanna stay
They took my cheese, they took my feta away"

"Ringin ringin ringin the President
And find out where my chevre went
Ringin ringin ringin the FDA
To find out if my cheddar's okay-hey"
Posted by C'mon let's rock & roll with the Provolones on June 10, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this
10
Fuck this shit. They can't even get proper labeling on food that needs labeling and they're dumbing down our cheese even more? The ban on importing cheese takes the wheel though - that's enough to make me want to become a permanent expat just so I can have real cheese.

I hope this blows up big time.
Posted by MemeGene on June 10, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
9
@7 All cheese is aged.
Posted by tkc on June 10, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Report this
8
I heard this was Hillary Clinton's doing. Indeed, this is why she killed Vince Foster.
Posted by GermanSausage on June 10, 2014 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Banna 7
Don't expect this to last long. Who eats aged cheese? Rich people eat aged cheese, you know, the ones who actually run things.
Posted by Banna http://www.ucp.org on June 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM · Report this
6
@1 Yes. It was Obama's plan all along to hamper the artisanal cheese supply.

CHEESEGHAZI! CHEESEGHAZI!

The FDA codes in Title 21 were written in 1986, you dumb fuck. They have always been absurdly detailed and convoluted and get revised every couple of years.
Posted by tkc on June 10, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 5
No more artisan cheese?!?!

OH MY GOD!!!!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on June 10, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
4
"It was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011 and aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it."

So more people in the US have died from cheese aged on wooden boards than, say, firearms? This law was signed into law January 1 2011. What say we ask our Congress representatives why they fear cheese aged on wooden boards?

Boy the U.S. government sure has fucked up priorities. But then I say that as a citizen of a country who doesn't see quite the epidemic threat of artisan, nonprocessed cheese as does say, Democratic Representative Betty Sutton of Ohio who introduced the bill, or the other 297 Congress people who supported this.

Your elected reps thought the Patriot Act was swell legislation too.
Posted by Oh Gothberg Cheese how I will miss you on June 10, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
fletc3her 3
This has been going on for some time. The FDA has started regulating craft cheese manufacturers more as they have industrial cheese manufacturers. There has been a crackdown on the use of un-pasteurized milk and other things. Some of it is good, but some of it feels like overreaching.
Posted by fletc3her on June 10, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Report this
2
The FDA is completely out of control with the implementation of FSMA, this is similar to what they tried to do to the brewing industry. Expect phone calls from members of congress tied to dairy states. (The potentially good news, is that after an initial attempt to double down on brewers, the FDA "reclarified" its new rule and backed off, which hopefully will be the case here as well).
Posted by lone locust on June 10, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Report this
raindrop 1
See? Now it's starting to hit you. This is your beloved President's doing. He said he was going to totally transform the United States of America. Elections have consequences.
Posted by raindrop on June 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM · Report this

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