The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly waging a new war on raw milk cheese, also known as artisan cheese. An article published in the Gourmet Retailer, a trade association, revealed that the FDA will begin testing a new “microbiological sampling surveillance model” which will be analyzed for contamination from salmonella and E. coli. According to the report, the FDA made the American Cheese Society (ACS) aware of the planned testing during an industry conference call in late December. The ACS website however, reportedly indicates that information about the new testing program was made available only to organization members.
The FDA is accused of using more stringent enforcement action than typical to shut down two raw milk cheese producers which allegedly had the presence of listeria in their cheese. The Morningland Dairy story, one of the two producers, went viral last year. Although no reports of listeria illness were reported from either the Morningland Dairy or the Estrella Family Creamery, the family farms were shut down. The federal agency conducted inspections of 75 percent of the farms that are members of the American Cheese Society in comparison to just 10 percent inspections from the same population in prior years, according to the Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights book.
Beginning in 1949, it has been illegal to sell cheese made from unpasteurized milk unless the cheese had been aged for a minimum of 60 days. The pathogens and bacteria which could be present on the cheese are supposed to no longer be present of harmful after the waiting period. Not all cheesemakers agree with the need for the 60-day waiting period, but the federal government has continually pushed their opinions and frequently voiced facts aside.
The Department of Agriculture feels that threat of E. coli, listeria, and salmonella are just too great to allow Americans the choice but natural raw milk and raw cheese. The Morningland Dairy has been fighting fallout from the Rawsome Foods raid for over five years. Federal agents confiscated thousands of dollars worth of raw milk cheese during the natural foods bust.
The owners of Morningland Dairy maintain that proper storage and transportation procedures were not followed when the raw milk cheese was removed from the California store, causing the food to spoil. After pouring over the lengthy federal guidelines and video footage from the Rawsome Foods raid. There is no known currently evidence contradicting claims by the Missouri dairy that the cheese was not moved in cooler or on a refrigerated truck. The cheese was then reportedly stores in crates at room-temperature and wasn’t tested until a week later.
Amateur videos shot when representatives from the Missouri Milk Board came to essentially close down the farm, are very hard to watch. It is impossible not to feel overwhelming sympathy for the farming family who saw their livelihood being destroyed.
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