Camembert Wars: if this is progress, I’ll take mine pasteurized

The AFP is reporting today that “real” camembert makers can rejoice. In addition to reducing the geographic boundaries of the camembert region, now the only camembert makers that will be recognized with the prestigious AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) label will:

–    use only raw milk;
–    have at least half of the cows providing the milk from Normandy origin; and,
–    ensure that their cows graze on Normandy pastures for at least 6 months of the year and fed hay the remainder of the time.

The grazing restrictions are new to the AOC conditions. I find them particularly surprising as research has shown that grass-fed or not, all cows can carry E. coli O157:H7.

The “real camembert” supporters apparently found the decision to be “undeniable progress.” Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mère, two large companies that previously produced more than 80% of AOC Camembert, decided last year to begin heat-treating their milk as a safety measure.

Francophiles, can read today’s original story for themselves. The French clearly articulate that the raw milk camembert has a velvety taste compared to the pasteurized version, but that the traditional methods are more onerous because they require various testing measures to avoid pathogens such as listeria. According to my favorite food safety advisor, you cannot test your way to safe food. The new and improved camembert will have enhanced risks.