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FDA Backs Down On Cheese Regulation

Written By: Asha McKenzie
FDA Backs Down On Cheese Regulation

NICHOLS (WENY) -- A policy statement from the Food and Drug Administration has Artisan cheese makers up in arms.
     The FDA opened the discussion that cheese makers would no longer be allowed to age their cheese on wooden boards because it's deemed unsanitary.
     With recent heat from the American Cheese Society, the FDA has since backed down on the proposal. But local farmers say if this policy goes into place it would greatly effect business.
     Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillbrand are working to protect Dairy Farmers in New York State.
     They are pushing for clarification from the Food and Drug Administration on possible new rule of banning a century old cheese aging process.
     "It would costs more to make our cheese, said Lisa Englebert, co- owner of Englebert Farms in Nichols. "We would have to really evaluate whether it was worth it to continue making cheese or not."
     Englebert farms in Nichols says her farm supports 5 families and because of that, they've had to diversity out of just dairy and now sells artisanal cheeses produced by Lively Run Goat Farm in Interlaken.
     She says if the FDA really, truly cracked down and eliminated the use of wooden boards, that would effect a lot of small scale family farms.
     "Ultimately, the consumer are the ones that are going to be hurt by it as well as the farmers," said Englebert. 
     In a recent statement, the FDA says "In the interest of public health, the FDA's current regulations state that utensils and other surfaces that contact food must be "adequately cleanable."
     They say The porous structure of wood makes the surface prone to bacteria.
     Tom Murray of Muranda Cheese Company in Waterloo has been making cheese for 7 years.
     He says if cheese makers were forced to use plastic or metal to age the cheese, it would affect the quality of the product.
     "The tale telling sign of good cheese, is great raw product. Your milk is very, very clean, low bacteria, and low ph counts.