FDA Abruptly Reverses Stance on Wooden Aging Boards for Cheese

In Depth

Just days after the Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on wooden boards for ageing cheese, they’ve completely reversed their stance.

On Tuesday, June 10, the FDA deemed that wooden boards were somehow intrinsically “unsanitary” for use during the cheesemaking process, despite thousands of years of humans using them for that explicit purpose. Good news for lovers of cheese, though: today, the FDA entirely and unequivocally reversed that decision. Basically, and I do not mean this in a negative way, everyone who knows anything about cheesemaking shouted at them that they were being stupid until they agreed to slow their roll. According to Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli, who knows a hell of a lot more about this than you or I do:

“Wood is a living thing, and cheese is a living thing, and when you combine them it creates a microbiological environment for the cheese. It imparts a flavor, and creates an environment for a healthy rind to grow on the cheese. Basically, it’s a catalyst for beneficial bacteria to grow on the outside of that cheese to essentially prevent the bad mold and allow the good mold to grow. Thirdly is the humidity factor — the boards are acclimated to a certain humidity. The wood holds its own humidity and slows out the drying of the cheese.”

Really, you’d think if wooden boards were really THAT unsanitary, we would’ve figured it out before now since we’ve had millenia of practice making cheese. This isn’t the first time the FDA has jumped to conclusions, nor is it the most insane (that honor probably goes to the time the FDA tried to claim walnuts and cherries were drugs while still allowing Frito-Lay to market its chips as “heart healthy”), but it’s still a hell of a head-scratcher. It seems like most non-Kraft singles forms of cheese (hahaha, we’re calling Kraft singles “cheese”) at least benefit from wooden-board aging, and as Thrillist notes, some even require it. Given that, it’s good to see that the FDA has listened to reason with what, for a government agency, is shocking speed.

Rest easy, cheese-lovers: your wheels are safe. For now.

Image via racorn/Shutterstock.

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