If you are anything close to a foodie, you know you have to buy imported parmesan cheese to get a good parmesan flavor. American cheeses like parmesan must be pasteurized to be sold in interstate commerce. The flavor is much saltier without the good tangy taste of an unpasteurized parmesan. But, humorously, imported unpasteurized parmesan and other cheeses are available. There is a noticeable difference in flavor, but also a noticeable price point.
It is one of many silly FDA rules related to food in this country. But they are not stopping there. Now the FDA is cracking down on artisanal cheese production in the United States. Never mind that it has been manufactured for years the same way. They’re going a step beyond pasteurization rules too. Imported cheeses must now follow the same rules.
American cheese makers will no longer be allowed to age or ripen cheese on wooden boards, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency recently cited several New York state cheese makers for using the boards in a recent inspection, saying the “unsanitary” practice was a violation of FDA regulations for safe food manufacturing. But New York has allowed the practice—which is common in artisanal cheese production—for years, and asked the FDA for answers.
The FDA has decided, thanks to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, that it now has a mandate to go beyond acting on food contamination issues to stopping food contamination all together. So it is now going after cheese and a several thousand year old practice.
It is worth noting that this is because of bipartisan legislation and that major cheese manufacturers are okay with this because they hate the competition.