Somewhere in a smoke-filled boardroom, the Whey and Curds Committee is hunched over a heap of runny rounds with washed rinds, trying to figure out whether or not the Federal government ought to clamp down on cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. A recent New York Times story suggests that, in the wake of 2010's glut of recalls and multi-state E. coli outbreaks, the FDA will unveil new proposals for regulating raw milk cheeses. The current 60-day aging period -- already a headache for some cheese-makers -- may be extended an extra month. Or potentially, raw milk cheeses could be banned outright.
Given that pasteurized milk causes its share of food safety calamities, we're coming down hard on the side of the raw milk wranglers, reckoning that a little rennet roulette is worth the pleasure we get from a wedge of Tomme de Savoie. While it's a major issue, particularly for small-batch producers, and the emerging scientific findings are obviously worth digesting, we can't help but get a chuckle out of the article's decidedly prosaic take on the magical properties of raw milk:
"Cheesemakers say pasteurizing milk destroys enzymes and good bacteria that add flavor to cheese. Raw milk cheese, they say, has flavors that derive from the animals and the pastureland that produced the milk, much as wine is said to draw unique flavors from individual vineyards."