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June 12, 2014

Schumer to FDA: Back off cheesemakers

(Continued)

Schumer said there has been no evidence linking the consumption of artisan cheese to human illness, although he noted that one FDA inspection of a cheese production facility in the Finger Lakes region turned up evidence of listeria contamination.

However, the senator added, the wooden aging process has passed muster in scientific studies, including one conducted by the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. That study, he said, determined that the benefits from using wooden boards in cheese ripening far outweighed the risks.

The FDA said on Tuesday that it had not adopted any rules banning the boards, and that the viewpoints concerned the use of board that were expressed by one of the federal agency’s officials in January did not represent FDA policy.

After Schumer scheduled a press briefing on the cheese dustup, New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also chimed in on the issue, calling on the FDA to allow cheese producers to continue to use wood in the aging process.

New York produced more than 750 million pounds of cheese in 2012, according to Schumer.

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