September 8, 2014
Recent media reports have incorrectly indicated that the FDA is banning Roquefort and other cheeses.
Earlier in 2014, nine producers of Roquefort, Tomme de Savoie, Morbier, and other cheeses tested above threshold levels set in 2010 for a particular type of bacteria called non-toxigenic E. coli. While these bacteria don’t cause illness, their presence suggests that the cheese was produced in unsanitary conditions.
The FDA has been working with the American Cheese Society (ACS) to learn more about artisanal cheeses and measures that cheesemakers take to ensure their products are safe. After hearing ACS’ concerns about the test results, the FDA adjusted its criteria for taking regulatory action based on them. As a result, 95 percent of the cheese sampled tested below the level at which FDA would take regulatory action, and six of the nine cheese producers placed on Import Alert 12-10 for exceeding bacterial counts have been removed from that list and can resume sales and distribution in the U.S.
The FDA remains dedicated to ensuring a safe and wholesome food supply using the latest science to protect human health, and promoting dialogue with industry, consumers and other interested parties. The FDA is committed to working and sharing an open dialogue with the artisanal cheesemaking community. Of course, we welcome input from the public at any time and we continue to meet and share information with the artisanal cheesemaking community on this and other topics.
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