Some raw milk cheese you’re buying from large companies in the US may be falsely labeled. It isn’t raw at all—it’s been “subpasteurized”!
The Healthy Home Economist, a website run by Sarah Pope, recently ran a fascinating article detailing how large health food companies are tricking consumers into thinking they’re buying real raw milk cheese by “subpasteurizing” the product.
Federal regulation strictly defines pasteurization. According to federal law:
If the cheese is labeled as pasteurized, the milk shall be pasteurized by subjecting every particle of milk to a minimum temperature of 161 degrees Fahrenheit for not less than 15 [fifteen] seconds or by any other acceptable combination of temperature and time treatment approved by the Administrator.
In short, a cheese that has been heated to a temperature of below 161°F for under fifteen seconds—temperatures high enough to deactivate the critical enzymes which make raw milk cheese desirable—could still be labeled “raw.”
Now, the Healthy Home Economist reports that the Organic Valley company admits to “subpasteurizing” its products, but has not divulged details on what exactly this means. This seems to us to be a ruse to charge a premium for a product that is deceptively labeled and does not deliver the health benefits consumers are expecting when they purchase the product.
The moral of this story? When purchasing raw milk cheese, it’s best whenever possible to do so from a local cheese maker—particularly one with whom you can directly speak to find out how the product is made. It is worth making the effort to seek out food producers who deserve your trust. Organizations such as the Weston Price Foundation and the Cornucopia Institute can help.