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Ending the War on Artisan Cheese : The Inside Story of Government Overreach and the Struggle to Save Traditional Raw Milk Cheesemakers - Doctor Catherine Donnelly

Ending the War on Artisan Cheese

The Inside Story of Government Overreach and the Struggle to Save Traditional Raw Milk Cheesemakers

By: Doctor Catherine Donnelly

Paperback | 25 October 2019

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A prominent food scientist defends the use of raw milk in traditional artisan cheesemaking.

Raw milk cheese-cheese made from unpasteurized milk-is an expansive category that includes some of Europe's most beloved traditional styles: Parmigiano Reggiano, Gruyere, and Comte, to name a few. In the United States, raw milk cheese forms the backbone of the resurgent artisan cheese industry, as consumers demand local, traditionally produced, and high-quality foods. Internationally award-winning artisan cheeses like Bayley Hazen Blue (Jasper Hill, VT) would have been unimaginable just forty years ago when American cheese meant Kraft Singles.

Unfortunately the artisan cheese industry faces an existential regulatory threat. Over the past thirty years the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has edged toward an outright ban on raw milk cheeses. Their assault on traditional cheesemaking goes beyond a debate about raw milk safety; the FDA has also attempted to ban the use of wooden boards, the use of ash in cheese ripening, and has set stringent microbiological criteria that many artisan cheeses cannot meet. The David versus Goliath existence of small producers fighting crushing regulations is true in parts of Europe as well, where beloved creameries are going belly-up or being bought out because they can't comply with EU health ordinances. Centuries-old cheese styles like Fourme d'Ambert and Cantal are nearing extinction, leading Prince Charles to decry the "bacteriological correctness" of European regulators.

The dirty secret is that Listeria and other bacterial outbreaks occur in pasteurized cheeses more often than in raw milk cheeses, and traditional processes like ash-ripening have been proven safe. In Ending the War on Artisan Cheese, Dr. Catherine Donnelly forcefully defends traditional cheesemaking, while exposing government actions in the United States and abroad designed to take away food choice under the false guise of food safety. This book is fundamentally about where and how our food is produced, the values we place on methods of food production, and how the roles of tradition, heritage, and quality often conflict with advertising, politics, and profits in influencing our food choices.

Industry Reviews

"Catherine Donnelly serves up a compelling case for food regulation based on scientific evidence, not special interests, reminding us in the process of our duty to cherish and support small-scale, independent producers endangered by the encroachment of multinationals."-Bronwen Percival, coauthor of Reinventing the Wheel

"Friends of raw milk cheese could not have a more knowledgeable, rational, and persuasive expert on their side than Catherine Donnelly. Detail by appalling detail, Dr. Donnelly lays bare the thin scientific support for many FDA regulations on food safety. Her expose may enrage you, but that's the point. Informed and indignant consumers willing to fight for traditional foodways can win this war."-Janet Fletcher, publisher, Planet Cheese blog

"This bold and compelling book reveals the shocking truth behind why powerful industrial dairy producers are on a mission to impose a ban on all raw milk cheese, and how US regulators are blatantly misrepresenting credible scientific studies to intimidate and threaten the country's growing number of artisan cheesemakers. Make no mistake, the stakes are high. Unless the confrontation ends soon, artisan cheese with an authentic taste of place will disappear."-Will Studd, host and executive producer, Cheese Slices

"One size does not fit all when it comes to food safety regulation. In this comprehensive, critical review of FDA policy and practice over the last three decades in regulating commercial cheesemaking, microbiologist Catherine Donnelly reveals how the twentieth-century industrial ethos that guides regulatory rule-making is dangerously out of step not only with the growing interest in producing and consuming artisanal foods, but also with the latest scientific evidence."-Heather Paxson, author of The Life of Cheese

"Dr. Donnelly's compelling scientific and historical arguments against arbitrary regulation and government overreach are must-reads for anyone who values raw milk artisan cheeses, one of our most delicious and safest traditional foods. Those seeking proof need go no further."-David Gibbons, coauthor of Mastering Cheese; cheese columnist, Wine Spectator

"In a moment where alternative facts, the war on science, fake news, and the corporate consolidation of our food system are redefining our futures, this superbly written book is timely and necessary. Catherine Donnelly uses the experiences of cheesemakers, farmers, and scientists to explore the tension that exists among corporate behemoths, regulators, and cheesemakers working to build economic vitality and maintain traditions in rural communities. As a scientist, Dr. Donnelly exposes the political objectives that have dominated policy and enforcement at the FDA, expertly proposes alternative regulatory solutions, and defends the remarkable safety record cheese has enjoyed over millennia. Bravo!"-Mateo Kehler, cheesemaker, Jasper Hill Farm

"Dr. Donnelly has written a thorough and articulate book, one that explores how rules written far from the farm, by people with little to no farm experience, weaken food safety, and how current FDA policy does not jibe with current scientific understanding of microbiology. She argues that the government should not favor industrial producers over small farms, and better policy is not only possible, but already exists. She also explains how we can use our wallets and our pens to advocate for the return of common sense and science to food policy."-Dan Strongin, former president, American Cheese Society; columnist, Cheese Reporter

"You'll find no better guide to the byzantine world of food safety regulation than the eminent Professor Donnelly, whose lucid prose illuminates the complex scientific and regulatory issues at the heart of this riveting story. At a time of sharp ideological division over the role of government, she explains that more regulation is not always better, but all regulation is not necessarily bureaucratic overreach. Going further she offers a common sense call for competence and science-based decisions. Donnelly is eloquent in reminding us that the world's food traditions are cultural treasures and unsparing in her condemnation of the shocking and even duplicitous behavior of the FDA."-Frederic C. Rich, lawyer; environmentalist; author of Getting to Green

"Dr. Donnelly does the hard work of piecing together a definitive account of how our government has threatened artisanal cheese producers at home and abroad. I had previously read the published science and couldn't understand why the FDA would use it against US producers. This book aims to clarify their intentions. Consumers and elected officials now have a responsibility to take action to stop this overreach."-Carlos Yescas, director, Oldways Cheese Coalition

"This amazing book is an insightful look into the story of American entrepreneurs who are under attack from faceless bureaucrats who are determined to homogenize a unique and centuries-old American treasure. The book sets out a cautionary tale for any person interested in the American dream-what is happening to the artisan cheese industry can easily happen to any other industry. This is a must-read for sophisticated people who care about the battle between regulation and prosperity."-Gregory S. McNeal, JD, PhD, professor, Pepperdine University School of Law; contributor, Forbes

"For over two decades, Dr. Catherine Donnelly has worked tirelessly to support and defend artisanal cheesemakers in the daunting arena of food safety assurance and regulation. Ending the War on Artisan Cheese presents a panoramic view of the scientific, regulatory, political, commercial, and legal landscape that now threatens the survival of traditional artisan cheese. Donnelly's epic account is a clarion call to work together toward a win-win regulatory model that supports large and small producers alike, those who employ cutting-edge technology and those who carry on centuries-old tradition. Let's move forward together!"-Paul Kindstedt, author of Cheese and Culture

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