‘Hands Off My Cheese!’ Libs Panic About Fate of Cheese, FDA Caves

When the FDA proposed a ban on traditional cheese making, even liberals realized that this overreach stunk worse than limburger.

On June 7, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new regulations, which many cheese makers interpreted as a de facto ban on traditional and artisan cheeses. The regulations would prevent cheese makers from using wooden boards to age cheese, a practice that dates back hundreds of years.  When news of this ban broke, the same liberal outlets that hawk big government immediately had a collective fit, blasting the FDA and extolling the virtues of cheese making. The FDA quickly backed off on June 11, though it is unclear if they responded to the outcry by the liberal media, grassroots opposition or industry groups.

In a rare show of anti-government sentiment, liberals complained that the “FDA’s Misguided War” was “terrible news” and demanded the government get its “hands off my cheese.”

As Forbes’ Gregory McNeal explained on June 9, the FDA sought to ban “the centuries old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards” because it claimed that wooden boards could not be sufficiently cleaned, increasing the risk of dangerous bacteria.

Liberal cheese lovers refused to take this tyranny lying down, with numerous outlets denouncing the proposed regulations. On June 10, the Huffington Post’s Carly Ledbetter said the rule was “terrible news” that “literally stinks.” Similarly, Vox Media’s Joseph Stromberg denounced this “terrible idea” that may have “endangered [cheese makers’] livelihoods without a sound scientific basis.

Other left-wing outlets took their fight directly to the FDA and the government. The New York Times’ David Firestone demanded the FDA “keep your government hands off my cheese” on June 10, though he assured readers that this was an unusual case and “the Obama administration should be doing more regulating” in general. On June 10, Slate’s L.V. Anderson also criticized the FDA of waging a “misguided war” after a long “adversarial relationship with traditional cheese makers.”

In November, when the FDA attacked the much less snobby trans fats, some of these same outlets sang very different tunes.  The New York Times’ Editorial Board praised the “overdue ban” that would “save thousands of lives and potentially billions of dollars.” Slate followed suit, with William Saletan saying “regulating [trans fats] feels like regulating chemicals, not food” and assuring readers “they’re easy to replace. Consequently, these same groups lobbying for an end to trans fats are the same groups that pushed for them in the first place.

The FDA backed off their “misguided war” on cheese just three days later, as Forbes’ McNeal reported, amidst “outrage in the artisan cheese community,” “outrage through social media” and the American Cheese Society’s opposition.

Sean Long
Sean Long is a former writer for MRC Business.