Tuesday, June 10, 2014

FDA Further "Clarifies" Stance on Aging Cheese on Wooden Boards

After dozens of U.S. major news outlets did an outstanding job of reporting news on the FDA clarifying its position on the use of wooden boards when it comes to aging cheese, the agency today further clarified its earlier clarification.

Here is the FDA Statement:

"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.

In the interest of public health, the FDA's current regulations state that utensils and other surfaces that contact food must be "adequately cleanable" and properly maintained. Historically, the FDA has expressed concern about whether wood meets this requirement and has noted these concerns in inspectional findings. FDA is always open to evidence that shows that wood can be safely used for specific purposes, such as aging cheese.

The FDA will engage with the artisanal cheese-making community to determine whether certain types of cheeses can safely be made by aging them on wooden shelving."

This back-stepping in both tone and message is welcome news for the hundreds of cheesemakers across the country who have invested their life savings in making premium artisanal cheese and aging it on wooden boards.

I want to give a special shout-out to every consumer who wrote a letter, signed a petition, left a comment on a blog or Facebook page and generally made standing up for artisan food a main-stream American issue. In the end, everything is politics. Thank you for taking a stand. We will most certainly need you in the future.

Cheese for life!

7 comments:

  1. Yes! Great job on reporting this on your blog, Jeanne. You've helped to make a very confusing issue less so.

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  2. And the voices of the people were heard!! Amazingly, the US govt listened. Thank you for your efforts, Jeanne. Vive la fromage!

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  3. Anonymous12:16 PM

    See this for the strategy.

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  4. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Where did you get this FDA statement? Other sources do not quote what you have in the first paragraph ("The FDA does not have..."). I just want to clarify that this is the correct quote.

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  5. The FDA Statement came from the FDA. Here is the latest statement, just released: http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm400808.htm

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  6. OK, but it WAS a new policy - or at least closed a "loophole" on cheese (and whiskey? The announcement specifically mentioned boards and shelves, but as examples of wood - none of which was to ba acceptable until it had been submitted for and approved as "easily cleanable," whatever that meant.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2014/06/10/fda-backs-down-in-fight-over-aged-cheese/

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  7. Jeanne, this was some impressive reporting and I love that you were able to get the truth out there without dramatics. Kudos to great cheese reporting! Nice win for the Cheese Underground as well. Stay Cheesy Lady!

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