P133
Politics of raw-milk cheese and fermented food

Convenors:
Heather Paxson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Elise Demeulenaere (CNRS)
Format:
Panels
Location:
U6-41
Start time:
23 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Raw-milk cheeses are becoming emblematic of broader movements of resistance or dissent against industrialization and standardization of food. How are these movements organized? How do they manage and value the microbial diversity necessary to craft their products?

Long abstract:

Raw-milk cheeses are classified as highly risky for public health owing to the microbial pathogens they might harbor. As such, they are subject to particular scrutiny from sanitary authorities. The dominant management of risk (predicated on industrial scales and methods) privileges eliminating microbes (via pasteurization, thermization and microfiltration). In contrast, promoters of raw-milk cheeses claim that risk can be successfully managed through careful management of the microbial environments in which cheeses are fabricated, aged, and sold. In contexts where sanitary regulations are being strengthened, on both sides of the Atlantic, raw milk and raw-milk cheeses are becoming emblematic of broader movements of resistance or dissent against industrialization, standardization and globalization of food. How are these movements organized? Who are the players? What arguments do advocacy groups promote? What role do scientific communities play? What are the "epistemic communities" in favor of and in opposition to raw-milk cheese? At the level of the practitioners, how do they manage the microbial diversity necessary to craft their products? How do they value it? How do their practices and understanding of microbial life conflict with sanitary rules? This panel has been thought with the case of cheese in mind, but can be open to other foodstuffs involving microbes.