There's been a lot of commotion over the FDA's possible ban over the use of wood planks in the aging process of artisanal cheeses produced in the United States. Luckily, it seems, after clarification upon clarification, the organization does not actually intend to enforce the measure, which was looked at as a death knell for certain cheese makers across the country. While they're backing out like it never happened, it does seem the Twitter backlash and numerous petitions that cropped up after news broke of the ban may have played a role in at least the clarification statement, if not a change of heart entirely.
According to Slate, whose headline captured our sentiments perfectly in saying "The FDA's Misguided War on Bacteria That Make Cheese Taste Good," new FDA legislation would have cracked down on wood board aged cheeses like Parmesan, Comté, and Beaufort, among others. The wood boards can trap harmful bacteria when poorly maintained, but when not poorly maintained they house the very bacteria that makes those cheeses what they are.
Wouldn't it have just made more sense to inspect boards and make sure that they were being kept up to snuff rather than outlaw them entirely?
According to Huffington Post, cheese lovers took to Twitter with the hashtags "Speakcheesies" and "Savethecheese" to voice concerns over the measure, and the FDA responded, according to Forbes, that there wasn't actually any ban after all.
"The FDA does not have a new policy banning the use of wooden shelves in cheese-making, nor is there any FSMA requirement in effect that addresses this issue. Moreover, the FDA has not taken any enforcement action based solely on the use of wooden shelves," the statement said.
Whether that's true, it is oddly coincidental that some of these very same artisanal cheese varieties were under threat in a recent U.S.-European Union deal. American cheese makers have been criticized for taking over the historically European market.
In a statement released to Slate, the FDA said that it's willing to work with cheese makers to determine if wood boards are safe to age on, if the cheese makers provide the proof.
"The FDA is always open to evidence that shows that wood can be safely used for specific purposes, such as aging cheese," the statement said.
Great, glad you're open to un-restricting things you had no proof was actually harmful if someone else can do all the work for you. Meanwhile, there's yoga mats in our bread and addictive substances in our pop.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.