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Raw-Milk Cheeses Now Legal in Quebec

Camembert de NormandieThe Quebecois, always more French in their approach to food than the rest of Canada, have decided raw milk cheeses are worth taking a risk on after all.

Quebec, like the rest of Canada and the U.S., has long required raw-milk cheeses to be aged 60 days before sale to ensure against the possibility of harmful bacteria in unpasteurized milk. Artisan cheese makers have argued that many raw-milk cheeses reach their peak flavor at three to four weeks and the longer aging requirements change the inherent characteristics of those young cheeses. The North American versions of brie, camembert and other soft cheeses are very different from what is commonly produced in France, where a cheese cannot be labeled ‘Camembert de Normandie’ unless it is made according to strict rules.

The change in Quebec’s law is accompanied by new regulations controlling sanitation and handling of the raw milk and raw milk cheeses.

Let’s hope this incident of uncharacteristic government sanity crosses the border into the rest of Canada and the U.S. I’ve tasted young raw-milk cheeses given to me (because they can’t sell them to me) by some of my local dairy farmers, and the difference is amazing. I wish my government would stop protecting me from risks I’m willing to take.Β  But until they do, I may have to consider a quick smuggling trip across the border to Montreal.

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Image credit: Marc Roussel under a Creative Commons license.

2 comments
  1. cchiovitti

    In this day and age of cheap, easy, fast, and accurate testing available, it really doesn’t make sense to require large-scale pasteurization any more except under certain circumstances. The hoops that we Americans have to jump through to acquire raw milk is insane. Technically, it’s illegal unless you own the cow yourself so we have to purchase a “share” of a cow at the dairy.

    I feel that if widescale TB testing was required for all dairy cattle, then pasteurization wouldn’t be necessary any more.

  2. Valerie Taylor

    cchiovitti, it really is just crazy, isn’t it? I can buy cigarettes but not unpasteurized milk. What is that about?

    I have no beef with anyone who prefers to drink their milk pasteurized. If I had a family member who was pregnant or immune-compromised, I’d be giving them pasteurized milk. But to make it illegal?

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