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FDA backs down on aging cheese crack down

Last week, the FDA issued a warning to America's cheese producers that aging cheese on wooden boards was a violation of the FDA's heath standards. It now appears after much public outcry about how this is ridiculous, the FDA is backing down. From Forbes:

The FDA is backing away (at least temporarily) from a policy statement that declared cheese makers would no longer be able to age their cheese on wooden boards.  The statement caused outrage in the artisan cheese community and consumers quickly came to the aid of the industry signing onto a petition and expressing their outrage through social media.  The American Cheese Society released a position statement, and it was clear that the industry was prepared to fight back if the FDA did not change its position.

Today, the FDA claimed that it in fact had not issued a new policy.

“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.”

Cheese makers rejoice!


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