Cheese world fears crackdown on wood boards

2014-06-11 15:29

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Crazy! Cheese rolling competition in Gloucester

2014-05-28 09:41

Watch this entertaining footage of revellers chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill in England as part of the annual Cheese Rolling Competition. WATCH

New York - Aging cheese on wood boards is a common practice among artisan cheese makers in the US and overseas. Now, some in the industry are worried US regulators may crack down on the practice.

In recent communication to the New York regulators, the Food and Drug Administration noted that wood shelves and boards cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitised, and as such do not conform to a particular regulation regarding plant equipment and utensils.

The federal agency also noted that "proper cleaning and sanitation of equipment and facilities are absolutely necessary to ensure that pathogens do not find niches to reside and proliferate".

Much of the cheese that's imported in the US is aged on wood.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the FDA seemed to backtrack on the comments. It noted that it hasn't taken any enforcement action based solely on the use of wood shelves. And while it said it has expressed concern about whether wood can be adequately cleaned, it added that it is "always open to evidence that shows that wood can be safely used for specific purposes, such as ageing cheese".

'Disbelief and distress'

The FDA said it will engage with the artisanal cheese making community to determine whether certain types of cheese can be safely made by ageing them on wooden shelves.

Robert Ralyea, a senior extension associate at Cornell University's Department of Food Science, said ageing cheese on wood is a part of the standard of identity for some cheeses, such as Comte cheese.

Ralyea made the inquiry on wood boards on behalf of a New York cheesemaker to state regulators, who then requested clarity from the FDA. The FDA's communication was posted late last week.

"A sense of disbelief and distress is rippling through the US artisan cheese community," wrote the blog Cheese Underground.

Meanwhile, the American Cheese Society, a trade association, posted an alert to its members. Nora Weiser, executive director for the society, said the aging of cheese on wood boards had never been an issue in the past. She said state inspectors have generally worked with cheese makers to ensure the wood is being properly cleaned.

"We can't guess what they'll do. Their goal is safety, and that's our goal as well," Weiser said. But she added that the American Cheese Society wanted to "preserve this as a method of ageing cheese".

Read more on:    fda  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.