FDA ruling could alter cheese aging process

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FDA ruling could alter cheese aging process
Packages of cheese are displayed at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Cheesmaker Gabriel Luddy cuts a wheel of dry aged jack cheese at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Workers turn cheese curds while making cheese at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Workers turn roll cheese curds into wheels at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Packages of aged jack cheese are displayed at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
James Hinchman stands next to wheels of cheese that are aging on wooden racks in a cooler at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Wheels of jack cheese age on wooden racks in a cooler at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
An employee displays a round of French Camembert cheese in an aging cellar at the Isigny-Sainte-Mere dairy co-operative in Isigny-sur-Mer, northwestern France, on April 4, 2014. (Photo credit CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Sandra Angelloz, a cheesemaker, set up wheels of Reblochon, a semi-soft mountain cheese, for maturing in a farm at the Aravis Col, in La Clusaz, on August 21, 2013. Farm-produced Reblochon, granted with the AOC title, are made from milk of Abondance breed cows which is collected twice a day. (Photo credit JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A dairy worker washes the rind on a wheel of hard cheese in the maturing room at the Tasmanian Heritage cheese plant, operated by Kirin Holdings Co.'s Lion unit, in Burnie, Tasmania, Australia, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Australia's economy expanded in 2012 at the fastest pace in five years as resource investment and exports outweighed subdued manufacturing and construction. (Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Wheels of Heidi Farm Raclette cheese mature on racks in the maturing room at the Tasmanian Heritage cheese plant, operated by Kirin Holdings Co.'s Lion unit, in Burnie, Tasmania, Australia, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Australia's economy expanded in 2012 at the fastest pace in five years as resource investment and exports outweighed subdued manufacturing and construction. (Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
William Bizzarri, director of the Credito Emiliano bank subsidiary that deals in Parmesan deposits, shows a Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese wheel, next to a poster of the temperature-controlled vault, in Montecavolo, near Reggio Emilia, Italy, Thursday Aug. 20, 2009. Row upon row of 39-kilogram (85-pound) wheels of straw-colored Parmesan cheese, stacked some 10 meters (33 feet) high at a secure warehouse, age for as many as two years under the care of bank employees trained in the centuries-old art of Parmesan making. Parmesan producers to pump cash into their business by using their product as collateral while it is otherwise sitting on a shelf for the long aging process. While the mechanism was not born out of the current economic crisis, dating rather from Italy's post-World War II years, producers say it is ever more important because it ensures that credit keeps flowing during otherwise tight times. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Worker Luigi Venturi carries a Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese wheel, outisdethe Credito Emiliano bank temperature-controlled vault, in Montecavolo, near Reggio Emilia, Italy, Thursday Aug. 20, 2009. Row upon row of 39-kilogram (85-pound) wheels of straw-colored Parmesan cheese, stacked some 10 meters (33 feet) high at a secure warehouse, age for as many as two years under the care of bank employees trained in the centuries-old art of Parmesan making. Parmesan producers to pump cash into their business by using their product as collateral while it is otherwise sitting on a shelf for the long aging process. While the mechanism was not born out of the current economic crisis, dating rather from Italy's post-World War II years, producers say it is ever more important because it ensures that credit keeps flowing during otherwise tight times. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
In this March 7, 2014 photo is Dante, an aged sheep milk cheese, produced by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative and sold at Fromagination in Madison, Wis. The World Championship Cheese Contest, which starts Tuesday in Madison, will feature more than 350 cheeses made from goat or sheep milk. (AP Photo/Taylor Anderson)
**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** Parmigiano-Reggiano With Aged Balsamic and Granny Smith apples is seen in this Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 photo. Try dining the Italian way and consider cheese a course served before dessert. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
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MADISON - Wooden boards have been an integral part of aging a wide variety of cheeses by producers around the world for more than a century, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says they are unsanitary.

Wisconsin allows cheese operations to use wooden boards if they follow protocol approved by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. DATCP spokesman Jim Dick says officials there are still seeking clarification on the FDA ruling before making any statements.

"Until then, there will be no change in Wisconsin's inspection policy," Dick said.

The Roelli Cheese Haus in Shullsburg uses wooden boards to age 85 percent of its cheeses.

"It's a potential game-changer for the face of artisan cheeses in the United States," owner Chris Roelli told The FDA cited several New York operations despite state laws that permit wooden boards.

But Metz's analysis, made public by the American Cheese Society, didn't include the entire findings of one of the reports. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Dairy Research analysis said that report concluded that while some wood can hide some bad bacteria, it can be eliminated as long as a thorough cleaning procedure is followed.

Smukowski said she believes the FDA made its finding partly in response to the enactment of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, which shifts the focus from responding to contamination crises to preventing them, and that it can create overreactions from the FDA.

"Without the boards, it will be the end of Limburger cheese made in the United States," he said.

FDA Backs Down In Cheese Fight

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