Sorry, too busy with the Thanksgiving rush to write something myself, but here is the word from Jasper Hill folks who have been working diligently on this issue:
THE DEADLINE IS MONDAY
Dear Friends in Cheese!
Many of you may remember the debacle of 2014 involving FDA’s flip-flopping position on the use of wooden shelving in the maturation of cheese in which a public outcry and a social media backlash forced FDA to withdraw its ludicrous and unscientific position on the matter. Well FDA has been at it again, this time by establishing microbiological criteria that make the production and sale of some raw-milk cheeses nearly impossible. FDA quietly changed the microbiological criteria for strains of non-toxigenic bacteria from 10,000 colony forming units (CFU) per gram to less than 10, effectively regulating many raw-milk cheeses out of the market. You may have noticed that Roquefort, Tomme D’Savoie and other special French and Italian cheeses have been missing from counters across the country (or have been replaced by pasteurized versions of themselves…). Well they are coming for domestic cheeses next.
The rub here is that there is no public health benefit to these new rules. Instead, many delicious cheeses that have long traditions and excellent food safety records may disappear from American cheese counters. This may seem like an esoteric issue, but it is a watershed moment for the future of artisan cheesemaking in the US. The rule making and regulations that are promulgated now will shape our industry for decades to come. WE NEED YOUR HELP….!
The Vermont Congressional Delegation has taken the lead in circulating a letter in both chambers of the US Congress as a first step in addressing the issue with FDA. Find linked sample letters, and the letter the Vermont delegation is circulating in congress right now.