So long, raw milk cheese

One of the biggest battles between strong scientific evidence and those with a downright pigheaded refusal to accept the facts isn’t happening inside a medical clinic, but in the dairy fields of Northern California.

Nothing screams “Foodie” like being a self-proclaimed artisanal cheese connoisseur. Don’t believe me? Check out the lines of people stacked three deep at your local Whole Foods cheese counter on a Saturday morning, all waiting to get their fill of a distinctly bold raw milk cheddar. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about; I’m the one more than likely pushing my way to the front of the line.

Considering the numerous store recalls on tainted cheeses, study after scientific study showing that pasteurization is the most effective way to keep dairy products safe, and, um, I don’t know, the fact that I’m trained as a scientist, some of you will say that I should know better. And you’re right.

I know where the evidence points. I just don’t heed the advice. Well, I didn’t, until now. So, I’m swearing off raw cheese until I conduct a full investigation of what the risks include. (Happy now?) And instead of writing a monster post, I’m thinking I’ll make this into a series. That way, I can incorporate the feedback I get from readers along the way. Plus there are too many avenues to explore and I don’t feel like organizing the structure of a long post. (Yes, I’ve also developed a newfound zeal for brutal honesty, effective immediately.)

I think I know how this one is going to end , but it will still be fun to see what I learn. And who knows, maybe someone else has the same questions.

Photo via Flickr / Royalty-free image collection

Brian Mossop is currently the Community Editor at Wired, where he works across the brand, both magazine and website, to build and maintain strong social communities. Brian received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Lafayette College, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 2006. His postdoctoral work was in neuroscience at UCSF and Genentech.

Brian has written about science for Wired, Scientific American, Slate, Scientific American MIND, and elsewhere. He primarily cover topics on neuroscience, development, behavior change, and health.

Contact Brian at, on Twitter (@bmossop), or visit his personal website.