The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a clarification of its
position on artisanal cheesemakers’ use of wood shelving, which can aid in
aging cheese by controlling moisture to form rinds and hosting microbes
that add character and flavor. FDA’s Constituent Update called reports that the
agency established a new rule banning wood shelving “not accurate,” instead
noting that its regulations merely require that “utensils and other surfaces
that contact food must be ‘adequately cleanable’ and ‘properly maintained.’”
The confusion comes from a letter sent by FDA’s Center for Food Safety and
Applied Nutrition to the New York State Department of Agriculture and
Markets indicating that wooden surfaces could not be adequately cleaned,
thus violating the standards of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The
Constituent Update noted that the letter was intended as a background of
wood shelving use for aging cheeses and an analysis of relevant scientific
publications, and upon later inspection FDA recognized that “the language
used in this communication may have appeared more definitive than it
should have, in light of the agency’s actual practices on this issue.”


Issue 526

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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