THE TRUTH ABOUT RAW MILK CHEESE
It’s safe to eat, delicious and nutritious.
Join us on Saturday, April 16
Free Raw Milk Cheese Tasting Bar (11 am – 5 pm)
We’ll be tasting and talking about Raw Milk Cheese and helping our guests learn more about why this traditional method of cheesemaking is so important to preserve.
Pasteurizing, or heating milk to 145 degrees, creates sterile milk. It kills bad bacteria, but also the harmless good bacteria and local microflora. These microflora are what produce cheese with complex and unique flavors because they vary based on climate, location, time of year, what the dairy animals are eating and more. Raw milk captures all of those. Cheesemakers using pasteurized milk have to recreate those flavors with commercially produced cultures. But that means everyone is using the same “flavor packets,” so the cheeses aren’t unique.
U.S. Regulations Are Strict
U.S. laws are much stricter than European laws, where raw milk cheeses are celebrated. The U.S. requires raw milk be aged over 60 days. That’s why we can’t produce (or import) those amazing raw milk Camemberts and Bries from France.
Raw Milk is Not the Same as Raw Milk Cheese
Raw milk cheese is not the same as drinking raw milk, which is much more dangerous. The fermentation process that is cheesemaking breaks down milk sugars into lactic acid, which kills most dangerous bacteria. So even if there were unhealthy bacteria in the milk, the cheesemaking process would kill them.
Raw Milk Cheese May Be Safer
There have been more accounts of sickness from pasteurized milk cheese than raw because of the effort cheesemakers take to safeguard their raw milk cheeses. Also, killing the good bacteria in milk means there is nothing left to attack any bad bacteria introduced in the cheesemaking process.
Pasteurization Was Once Important
It was developed in the mid-nineteenth century, when cows were often kept in dirty barns, sanitation practices were poor, and milk could be quite dangerous. Conditions have changed significantly since then, but U.S. laws are getting more restrictive and not less.
Last year, the FDA proposed limiting the amount of non-toxigenic E. coli strains in raw milk cheese from 100 MPN/g to less than 10 MPN/g, a 90% reduction. Since it’s nearly impossible to make a cheese with 10 MPN/g, they were effectively prohibiting any raw milk cheese from being made. And for a brief time, the FDA banned the importation of some classic French cheeses (Roquefort, Morbier, etc) that failed to meet the lower standard. Toxic E. coli is deadly.
But not all E. coli bacteria are toxic. Like other bacteria, most strains of E. coli are part of the natural, healthy flora in our intestines. It’s totally normal to have these bacteria in our guts and in cheese. They are not an indication of possible sanitation problems as the FDA asserted. Fortunately, the FDA hit the pause button on their proposal after outreach by cheesemakers and others.