Artisanal cheese constitutes a subcategory of specialty cheese whose manufacture is char- acterized by its small scale, limited volume production, and individualistic producers. In recent years, artisanal cheese has been the fastest growing sector of the dairy products in- dustry. This value-added product enables small dairy farmers to survive in the modern economy. The industry’s success has been limited by federal regulations which essentially require the use of pasteurized milk in all cheeses that are not aged for 60 days at temper- atures not less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Although states retain the authority to permit all raw milk cheeses to be sold in intrastate commerce, very few have chosen to do so. As a result, U.S. artisanal cheese-makers, unlike their European counterparts, cannot sell fresh raw milk cheeses and have been conﬁned to making hard, aged cheeses.
At present, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of raw milk aged cheeses, threatening to halt the growth of the entire industry. This paper explores the origins of federal and
state regulations aﬀecting cheese in order to demonstrate that they were devised to suit the needs of large-scale manufacture rather than artisanal production. It explains the success ofartisanal cheese movement in terms of postmodern consumer theory and recommends that state governments should act to protect and encourage the production of raw milk cheeses or intrastate sale.
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