The Safety of Fermented Foods: Raw-milk vs. Pasteurized Cheese(s)

Cheese on a cutting board

Cheesemaking is an ancient means of preserving milk. But is cheese made from raw milk inherently riskier than cheese made from pasteurized milk? Heather Paxson will take us through the cultural history and practical implications of U.S. food safety regulation of cheese, which since 1949 has been predicated on a binary distinction between pasteurization and its absence. By bringing into view the artisan techniques of cheesemaking that can accomplish food safety on a par with (or may even exceed) pasteurization, she reframes cheese safety as a matter of holistic practice, not merely “clean” inputs. She will also reflect on the role and challenge of classification — how best to sort a limitless variety of cheese types into meaningful categories — for safety regulators, producers, retailers and consumers alike.

Heather Paxson is Professor and Program Head of Anthropology at MIT. She is the author of The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America, and an Area Editor of The Oxford Companion to Cheese.

The virtual talk will be on Thursday May 6th at 4 PM EDT 10 PM Danish time. Read more and sign up here: