Outrage in Wisconsin: FDA scrutinizes artisanal cheese aging

Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Food and Drug Administration's new stance on an old and popular method of aging cheeses had artisan cheese makers in Wisconsin waging war.

Earlier this week, the FDA called the centuries-old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards unsanitary after the agency cited several New York operations for listeria.

The FDA issued a statement banning the use of the wooden boards, which sparked outrage within Wisconsin's artisan cheese community and had the American Cheese Society asking the FDA to rethink its decision in a position statement released on its website Tuesday.

"A sense of disbelief and distress is rippling through the U.S. artisan cheese community," wrote the Wisconsin-based blog Cheese Underground.

At least 20 million pounds of cheese rests on wooden boards in Wisconsin, the executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association told the Wisconsin State Journal. Changing the way the cheeses are aged would have an effect on the unique taste of many popular cheeses, the newspaper notes.

It could also mean the end of American-made Limburger cheese.

“Without the boards, it will be the end of Limburger cheese made in the United States,” Myron Olson, the owner of the Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, which is the only American producer of Limburger cheese, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

He says that the cultures that have been on the wooden boards for generations add the unique flavor and smell to the cheeses. He adds that there's no alternative to wooden boards that would have the same affect.

The reason for the FDA's position on wooden boards came after an upstate New York cheese company was cited for unsanitary conditions and listeria contamination, Syracuse.com reports. But the American Cheese Society and the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research maintain that aging cheese on wooden boards is safe, as long as the boards are cleaned and maintained properly.

Luckily for Wisconsin's cheese industry, the FDA backed away from its previous statement after getting a lot of backlash Tuesday. The FDA said in a statement that it isn't banning wooden boards and it "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," according to Forbes.

Next Up

Ian Cole

Wild trade Greg Pateryn to Avalanche for Ian Cole

Cole won a pair of Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh and is a former first-round pick.

1024px-Hudson,_Wisconsin_9

St. Croix County GOP chair resigns after incendiary post on official website

John Kraft sparked controversy with his 'Prepare for War' post on the party website earlier this month.

ann kim

Ann Kim's new restaurant, Sooki & Mimi, to open in February

The James Beard Award winner is the brains behind Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, and Hello Pizza.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 1.32.19 PM

Firefighters rescue worker after trench fall in Rochester

The construction worker fell about 15 feet.

gray wolf

Grand Marais mayor's dog survives attack by wolves

He heard his 65-pound dog "screaming bloody murder" and then saw the wolves chasing her.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 12.04.55 PM

Minnesota's COVID vaccine appointment site goes live

Huge demand was expected when the site went live at noon.

emily ford

Duluth woman is hiking 1,000-plus miles on the Ice Age Trail this winter

She could be the second person ever to finish a winter-thru hike of the Wisconsin trail.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 19

Two days in a row with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.52.12 AM

After fire destroyed their house, couple forced to euthanize beloved dog

The couple's daughter has launched a fundraiser for her parents.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.16.14 AM

Investigation after teacher accused of lewd act during distance learning

No charges have been filed yet and the staff member has not been identified.

Related