Did you know that not all cheeses are created equal, at least according to U.S. customs? While America is home to a plethora of diverse cheese types, some cheeses are notably absent due to various bans. This article delves into the world of forbidden cheeses, unmasking why certain delicious dairy products are not permitted within the United States.
1. Casu Marzu
Originating from Italy, Casu Marzu is a cheese that’s intentionally infested with live maggots. The insect larvae help to ferment the cheese, resulting in a soft texture and strong, pungent flavor. However, this form of fermentation has led to the cheese being banned in the U.S. due to health concerns.
Regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibit the selling of cheeses that contain harmful parasites or diseases. The presence of live maggots in Casu Marzu raises the risk of internal larval infection if ingested, making it a forbidden cheese in America.
Famous for its blue veins and powerful aroma, Roquefort is a sheep milk cheese from France. Despite its popularity, it’s not widely available in the U.S. because it falls foul of FDA regulations. The reason? It’s aged in natural caves, a process that doesn’t meet the strict American standards.
For a cheese to be allowed into the U.S., it must be aged for 60 days at a temperature not less than 35°F, which is believed to kill harmful bacteria. Roquefort, however, is matured in caves at temperatures generally lower than this, making it ineligible for import into the U.S.
3. Brie de Meaux
Brie de Meaux, a soft and creamy cheese from France, is a favorite among cheese connoisseurs. However, similar to Roquefort, Brie de Meaux is made from raw, unpasteurized milk, which falls short of the FDA’s 60-day aging rule. This makes it another cheese that remains elusive in the U.S.
Raw milk cheeses carry a higher risk of foodborne illness, according to the FDA. The 60-day rule is supposed to allow enough time for potential pathogens in the cheese to die off. Unfortunately, Brie de Meaux is typically aged for less than 60 days, which leads to its ban in the U.S.
4. Sardinian Pecorino
Sardinian Pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese from Italy, is also banned in the U.S. This cheese is known for its salty, sharp flavor, and is usually aged for less than three months. But, like other raw milk cheeses that are aged less than 60 days, it doesn’t make the FDA cut.
While pasteurization kills harmful bacteria, it can also alter the taste and texture of cheese. Many European cheeses, including Sardinian Pecorino, are made from raw milk to maintain their traditional flavor profile. Unfortunately, this means they are not allowed into the U.S due to health concerns.
Époisses, a soft and creamy cheese from France, is widely regarded as one of the smelliest cheeses in the world. It’s washed in a local brandy, adding to its strong flavor. But its rich taste can’t be savored in the U.S., thanks to its short aging period and use of unpasteurized milk.
Époisses is typically aged for only a few weeks, far less than the FDA’s 60-day requirement. Its production process using unpasteurized milk, coupled with its short aging period, put it under the U.S. ban list. Despite its culinary reputation, Époisses remains forbidden in America.
6. Stinking Bishop
Stinking Bishop, a British cheese, is infamous for its powerful odor. Despite its off-putting aroma, it has a mild, creamy flavor that’s loved by many. However, this cheese is not available in the U.S. due to its production process.
The cheese is washed in perry, a type of pear cider, during its maturation process. This gives it its distinctive smell. But like many other cheeses on this list, Stinking Bishop is made from unpasteurized milk and is aged for less than 60 days, making it another forbidden cheese in the U.S.
Mimolette, a bright orange cheese from France, is known for its nutty taste. But this cheese has had a turbulent history in the U.S. In 2013, the FDA held up imports of Mimolette due to concerns about the cheese mites used in its aging process.
The cheese mites burrow into the cheese, giving it its distinctive flavor. However, the FDA deemed the mites a potential allergen, which led to the detention of the cheese. Although the ban has been somewhat relaxed since then, Mimolette has become significantly harder to find in the U.S.
Reblochon, a French cheese, is known for its creamy, nutty flavor. It’s a key ingredient in tartiflette, a traditional Savoyard dish. However, Reblochon is not available in the U.S. due to its short aging period and use of raw milk.
Reblochon is aged for just a few weeks, much less than the 60-day minimum required by the FDA. Its use of unpasteurized milk also falls foul of FDA regulations. As a result, it’s another cheese that’s banned in the U.S., much to the disappointment of many cheese enthusiasts.
In summary, while the U.S. has an impressive array of cheeses, there are some notable absences due to health and safety regulations. The forbidden cheeses have their unique flavors and aging processes, but unfortunately, these qualities are precisely what make them ineligible for the American market. So, the next time you enjoy a slice of cheese, remember, you’re partaking in a delicacy that’s not only delicious but also meets strict safety standards.