All things cheese in France

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Raw Milk Cheeses - safe or not?

The recent article in the NY Times entitled 'Raw Milk Cheesemakers Fret Over Possible New Rules' raises this ongoing battle between raw versus pasteurized milk products. once again. Raw milk cheeses have been around since the beginnings of time so what are the real reasons they are in danger of being outlawed? Enough with all the hyperbole, big industry influences and misleading claims, it is high time some real science and impartial research be done on raw milk cheeses!

Modern societies create their own environments and constraints, which in turn create their own need for specialized regulation for large populations. A one-size fits all rule, such as the 60 day aging rule in the US (fallacious from the start) is patently not appropriate. Pasturization not only does not eliminate the problem. In fact, pasturized cheeses have a pretty bad track record in this arena, both in the US and in France. The needs of an industrial cheese producer or any edible product for that matter, versus a small farm producer are different. What is not different is hygiene, both from the milk source, during the making, while being transported, stored and ultimately handled. At each point, there is the potential risk of contamination. and each present their own specific issues and varying levels of potential. Therefore, each point of weakness must be measured for its possibility to contaminate; considered fairly

One must also take into account the effects of the current anti-germ culture, such as the one in the US, where it seems all germs are bad and must be eradicated.  Is this practice of sanitizing everything, not in fact exacerbating the problem by distorting nature’s ability to balance good versus bad? One must accept that risk is inherent in life. To that end, each of us is responsible for determining how much exposure we are prepared to take, as well as what role our governments should take to mitigate risks for its people. But where is the balance between risk and profit? Where is rational, nonbiased research and debate about this issue? Now more than ever, we have the capability to do the science and debate the debate. It is time, in my opinion to do so.

Note Bene:  There is a recent video entitled `Cheese and Microbes` over on the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheeses site worth taking a look at on the subject at hand.

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