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FDA uses flawed analysis to target raw milk cheese

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: raw milk, cheese, health news

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(NaturalNews) A recent raw cheese study put out by product liability firm Marler Clark has generated a stir in the mainstream media. According to the report, documented cases of foodborne illness due to raw cheese consumption have risen in recent years, which has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider altering guidelines for raw cheese production. But what the report fails to explain is that illness cases from pasteurized cheeses are nearly the same as they are for raw cheeses throughout the past several decades, and that the supposed "rise" in illness cases from raw cheese is really more of a statistical manipulation than actual fact.

A recent Grist report on the matter explains that, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the 26 years between 1973 and 1999, there was not a single reported case of illness from either raw milk or pasteurized milk cheeses. Only in the last decade has there been an increase in both cases, with raw cheese illness cases slightly surpassing pasteurized cheese illness cases.

In 2008, however, there was not a single reported case of illness from raw milk cheese. But there were 45 reported cases of illness from pasteurized cheese that year, indicating that contamination obviously occurs after pasteurization. And while between 2000-2009 there were slightly fewer illness reports from pasteurized cheeses than there were from raw cheeses, one person died from pasteurized cheese poisoning while there were no deaths from raw cheese.

What these and the rest of the statistics illustrate is the fact that whether or not a cheese is raw or pasteurized, it can still cause foodborne illness. Just because a cheese is raw, in other words, does not mean it is more dangerous than pasteurized cheese, and the statistics largely show this.

But the FDA and mainstream media, in their typical anti-raw milk fashion, have once again begun condemning raw cheese as dangerous based on skewed information presented to them. And if the FDA rules that the 60-day aging requirement for raw cheese be extended to 90 or 120 days as is expected, the decision will eliminate from the market producers of softer raw cheeses that require less aging time. Even worse, the FDA may even decide that raw cheese it dangerous and outlaw it completely, eliminating the fast-growing artisanal raw cheese segment entirely.

Just like with raw milk, raw milk cheese is not inherently dangerous because it is raw. Poor handling and unsanitary conditions are the primary causes of foodborne illness, both in raw and pasteurized products. So targeting and banning raw products does nothing to solve contamination problems and everything to further the illogical anti-raw agenda.

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