A new FDA ruling has been creating a stir among American cheese-making connoisseurs. As of last week, the FDA has banned cheesemakers from aging cheese on wooden boards over sanitary concerns. This age-long practice of aging cheese is now being considered unsafe because the porous structure of the wooden shelves (which are not easy to clean or sanitize) makes it a breeding ground for pathogenic microorganisms.
Cheesemakers, on the other hand, argue that the benefits of using wood include lower costs, and the inbuilt property of wood which isolates moisture from cheese, making it supple and easier to control.
This new FDA ruling will no doubt have an effect on the business of small cheesemakers as well as that of larger companies. The bigger companies may be able to use science and money to present their case for using wood for the cheese aging process to the FDA, which in turn will give smaller companies an edge. The ban could further impact consumers, since it will also end up blocking imports of European cheeses, including Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you are wondering about local substitutes to Parmigiano-Reggiano, try BelGioioso American Grana and Dry Jack.
Source: Inc. and Inside Scoop SF