“The risk of a dangerous and sometimes fatal infection from soft-ripened cheeses made from raw milk is up to 160 times higher than that from soft-ripened cheeses made from pasteurized milk, according to a new Food and Drug Administration study.
Tougher regulations on popular raw-milk cheeses could come as a result of the report.
The FDA says its finding is consistent with findings that consuming unpasteurized milk and raw-milk products generally poses a higher risk from pathogens than pasteurized milk and its products.
Regulators say listeria bacterial infections from soft cheeses and other foods have some of the highest fatality and hospitalization rates among pathogenic bacteria, and that the risk of listeriosis from soft-ripened cheese made from unpasteurized milk is 50 to 160 times higher than that from similar products made from pasteurized milk.
Listeria generally only sickens the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. There are about 800 cases in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of the outbreaks have been traced to deli meat and soft cheeses, although in 2011 the CDC said about 140 illnesses and 34 deaths resulted from an outbreak linked to Colorado cantaloupes.
Now, the FDA says it’s assessing whether the 60-day aging process for raw cheeses – which are made from unpasteurized milk – is enough to kill harmful bacteria.”