Listeria hysteria -The FDA’s crackdown on small cheesemakers fails to turn up many bugs

By David Gumpert on Grist

To many observers, including me, the Food and Drug Administration’s recent pathogen-hunting campaign amongst artisanal and small cheese makers is evidence that it will not wield the new powers granted it to by the Food Safety Modernization Act neutrally, to inspect and regulate the largest sources of risk in the food system. (See Grist’s Food Fight debate, in which I was a participant, for more.) It’s gone looking for the most easily findable, albeit least commonly infectious pathogen around — listeria monocytogenes. Its agenda seems to be building a compelling case for lengthening or eliminating the 60-day aging requirement for raw-milk cheeses. For decades, American dairy regulations have allowed the sale of cheese made from unpasteurized milk as long as it’s aged at least 60 days, during which pathogens should die off in the fermentation process. Europe does not have this same aging requirement, and allows the sale of soft raw-milk cheeses.  (click here to read the rest of the article)

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