Democrat to FDA: Leave Artisanal Cheese Alone

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Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.) is mounting a bipartisan campaign against the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) plans to prohibit cheese-makers from using wood to age artisanal cheeses.

The Hill reports: 

Congressional pressuring is mounting for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to abandon new cheese aging regulations it may be planning.

Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.) is rallying a bipartisan group of lawmakers to stop the FDA from cracking down on artisan cheese-makers who use wood shelves to age their cheese. He plans to offer an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill that would block the FDA from going after the centuries-old aging process.

"Since the time of Adam and Eve, cheese makers have aged cheese on wood boards and wood shelves," Welch writes in a letter to every member of the House. "Wood allows the cheese to breathe and develop its tangy and rich flavor during the aging process.

Welch has already rallied more than a dozen lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including Reps. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.), Joe Courtney (D., Conn.), Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.), and Tim Walberg (R., Mich.).

The FDA is attempting to reinterpret a regulation from the 1980s to make it illegal for small manufacturers to age cheese on wood, which has been used for centuries.

Welch said there is no evidence to support the FDA’s belief, and called the potential move "bureaucratic overreach."

Changing the rules for artisanal cheese-makers could be very costly. Jasper Hill, a dairy farm and cheese manufacturer in Vermont, estimated they would need to spend $20 million to replace their wooden shelving.

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