Support VT's Delegation Challenging the FDA
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Tomme D’Savoie and other special French and Italian cheeses have been missing from counters across the country (or have been replaced by pasteurized versions of themselves…).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 below a draft that is making the rounds in Congress presently. Currently this letter has the following signatories:
The signed letter will be sent to Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Food and Veterinary Medicine at FDA after the Thanksgiving recess. It asks some pretty direct questions. We need some direct responses.
The DEADLINE IS MONDAY…. SO PLEASE consider writing or calling your congressman and senators. You can find your elected representatives by clicking on the following links:
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN SAY:
Please support the letter, currently being circulated in Congress by U.S. Representative Peter Welch and Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, and their work to build support from elected officials from other states.
Please ask the FDA to respond to the following questions:
Why did the FDA feel a more stringent E. coli standard for raw-milk cheese was warranted?
What evidence exists to demonstrate that raw-milk cheeses produced under current practices place public health at risk?
Has the science upon which this standard is based been subject to peer review?
Is it appropriate to apply the same standards to raw milk and to pasteurized milk cheeses considering that the fate of pathogenic bacteria and the public health risks associated with the two classes of cheese are known to be very different?
And to what extent did the FDA consult with international organizations and producers who import cheese into the U.S. in proposing this standard?
Also, please take a moment to share and sign this petition, initiated by the Oldways Cheese Coalition.
For additional background, I have linked below a document that Jasper Hill submitted to the Federal Docket with regards to FDA’s request for comments on raw-milk cheese and the 60-day aging rule.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or additional background should you need it.
Thank you for your support of Raw Milk Cheese and for your support of cheesemakers at large.
Cellars at Jasper Hill
PO Box 272
884 Garvin Hill Rd
Greensboro, VT 05841