FDA Crackdown on Raw Milk Cheese Based on Flawed Analysis

If you’ve been following the mainstream media, you might think there there’s been a serious jump in illnesses from raw-milk cheese recently. The FDA certainly appears to think so; it has been considering tightening the rule that allows producers to sell unpasteurized cheeses to the public.

However, looking at the period from 1973 through 2008 -- about three and a half decades for which data was available -- there were no illnesses from 1973 to 1999, and only 350 illnesses from raw milk cheese over the nine years from 2000-2009, an average of 39 per year. So there has been an increase.  However, during that same nine year period, there were 247 illnesses from resulting from pasteurized milk cheese consumption, and one death.

According to Grist:

“What does it all mean? ... Certainly the growing popularity of raw milk cheeses must have some bearing on the situation ... Even though an average of 39 reported annual illnesses is not indicative of a serious public health problem by any stretch of the imagination, the FDA can use the trend line of an increase in recent years to justify its preconceived bias against raw milk cheeses.”

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