Raw milk-based cheeses must be aged for a minimum of 60 days. The requirement appears at Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 58.439. Recent recalls and outbreaks, along with a host of other recent raw milk-based cheese contamination events, makes you wonder whether 60 days is really enough aging time to make raw milk cheese safe to enjoy. What is the 60 days based on? Why not 59? Why not 61?
Of course, its entirely possible that it is, and that the contamination in these recent events, including the recent cheese E. coli outbreak and listeria recalls, are from the production environment problems (cross-contamination), rather than within the cheesemaking ingredients themselves (feces in raw milk). Here is some literature on aging that I have found:
- 60-day aging requirement does not ensure safety of surface-mold-ripened soft cheeses manufactured from raw or pasteurized milk when Listeria monocytogenes is introduced as a postprocessing contaminant.
- Microbiological quality of raw milk used for small-scale artisan cheese production in Vermont: effect of farm characteristics and practices.
- Detection, isolation, and incidence of Listeria spp. in small-scale artisan cheese processing facilities: a methods comparison.
Any other literature on the topic? I feel this issue needs some discussion.