FDA Pauses Testing for Non-Toxigenic E. coli in Cheese

8 years ago Jasmine Romero 3 Minute(s) to read

Denver, CO (February 8, 2016) – Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a
statement addressing industry concerns over newly enforced limits on non-toxigenic E. coli in raw
milk cheese. In this statement, FDA announced that it is “in the process of pausing its testing
program for non-toxigenic E. coli in cheese."

FDA has stated that it will be reevaluating its approach to testing for non-toxigenic E. coli within
the overall preventive control framework of FSMA, including assessing whether it is appropriate to
have a single criterion for non-toxigenic E. coli in both raw and pasteurized cheeses. We are
pleased that FDA expressed its respect for raw milk cheesemaking and artisan producers in
today's statement.

This action comes on the heels of collaborative efforts by industry members, including ongoing
regulatory advocacy by ACS, to address permissible levels of non-toxigenic E. coli in raw milk
cheese. In December, a bicameral letter from legislators expressing concern over the change in
standards for non-toxigenic E. coli in raw milk cheese further supported FDA’s reevaluation of its
position. FDA’s response to legislators shows their continued effort to adhere to science-based
regulatory changes, something ACS has championed. As FDA recently sampled and collected
data on 1,200 imported and 400 domestic raw milk cheeses, we hope the overall safe profile of
legally-made raw milk cheeses from licensed facilities will inform any future changes to existing

ACS is proud that its advocacy efforts, in conjunction with those of so many allied industry groups
domestically and abroad, have made a real impact on the regulatory landscape. Of course, that
work is not over. ACS will continue to maintain a keen focus on preserving traditional
cheesemaking for generations to come.

To enhance its understanding of the artisan cheese industry, FDA is holding a Listening Session
on February 11 at their Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) to hear directly
from ACS raw milk cheesemakers about their experiences and concerns. ACS President, Dick
Roe, and ACS Executive Director, Nora Weiser, will be joined by seven raw milk cheesemakers
from around the country, who will share their stories and speak to the impact of potential
regulatory changes on their businesses. By lending their voices to this effort, these producers are
advancing the candid dialogue and understanding that is needed for continued growth in the
artisan cheese industry.

  •  Gianaclis Caldwell, Pholia Farm Creamery and Dairy (OR)
  • Lynn Giacomini Stray, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese (CA)
  • Andy Hatch, Uplands Cheese Company (WI)
  • Mateo Kehler, Jasper Hill Farm (VT)
  • Jeremy Little, Sweet Grass Dairy (GA)
  • Marieke Penterman, Holland's Family Cheese (WI)
  • Jeremy Stephenson, Spring Brook Farm and Farms for City Kids Foundation (VT)

Michael Taylor and FDA colleagues will be present to hear from these producers, and will have
an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue. This is a critical opportunity to better educate
FDA about the unique characteristics of raw milk cheeses, the unique challenges that these
cheesemakers face, and the important contributions raw milk cheesemakers are making to our
culinary and cultural landscape. It is through opportunities such as these, when producers are
able to share their experiences first-hand with regulators, that the seeds of real change are sown.

ACS will share a recap of this Listening Session, along with other important regulatory updates,
on its website at www.cheesesociety.org.

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