FDA Seeks Information About Raw Milk Cheese

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a call for data on raw milk cheese production and manufacturing on July 31, 2015. The goal of the data collection is to gain a more thorough understanding of raw milk cheese manufacturing processes to clarify and reduce the health risks of consuming raw milk cheese. The FDA released a study in 2013 outlining the risks of consuming raw milk cheese. The assumption had been that aging raw milk cheese would eliminate the risk of harmful bacteria. However, the study did not find that aging the cheese led to satisfactory risk reduction.

The FDA is looking for scientific data, production standards, and any comments or information that will help researchers understand the risks of raw milk cheese. Students looking to enter the field after completing their culinary arts programs should always mind all health and safety concerns with any ingredient or process they might use. In the case of raw milk cheese, the primary concern is a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes​, which can cause the foodborne illness listeriosis. Older people, newborns, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are the most at risk for this infection, which has high rates of hospitalization and death. Listeriosis usually starts in the gut and spreads to other organs, which can cause meningitis, stillbirth and other serious symptoms.

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