U.S. blocks imports of a typical French cheese, triggering protests

U.S. blocks imports of a typical French cheese, triggering protests
The cheese stands alone.
The cheese stands alone.

The U.S. government is blocking imports of a standard, normal-smelling French cheese, largely out of squeamishness. The cheese in question is Mimolette, a commonplace, orange French cheese so mild in flavor that I once confused it with cheddar when I visited my French relatives and ate it for the first time. The government’s de facto ban on the cheese has triggered protests in New York City, reports the Global Post:

Around 40 protesters took to the streets of New York on Saturday to demonstrate against a US ban on mimolette that has angered lovers of the distinctive French cheese.

Since March, several hundred pounds of the bright orange cheese have been held up by US customs because of a warning by the Food and Drug Administration that it contained microscopic cheese mites.

The mites are a critical part of the process to produce mimolette, giving it its distinctive grayish crust.

The US decision has angered importers and consumers, who have even set up a Facebook page titled “Save the Mimolette.”

Benoit de Vitton, an importer of the cheese. . . said he was baffled by the recent blockade, noting he has imported mimolette for two decades without a problem. “They are afraid of allergies,” he said. “But we’ve been doing this for 20 years without any problem.”

Who cares if the cheese has tiny, invisible mites in it? Cheese is the product of bacteria. Good yogurt has live cultures of bacteria in it, and that is beneficial for your health. Food that is alive can be good for you. The human body is full of living, friendly microbes that keep us alive. The cheese mites in Mimolette were put there to enhance its flavor: as Wikipedia notes, the “crust of aged Mimolette is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavor by their action on the surface of the cheese.”

When it comes to food, the Obama administration can be incredibly ignorant. It banned white potatoes from the federal WIC program (WIC money can be spent on far less nutritious things than potatoes, things that are starchy, fatty or sugary, like apple sauce, which has no nutrition unless vitamin C is artificially added to it. But an NIH employee here told me to stock my fridge with apple sauce so that my my daughter would always have access to fruits and vegetables. The same NIH that later funded a ludicrous left-wing “study” falsely claiming that the tobacco industry invented the Tea Party).

The Obama administration ignored the fact that the potato is not only healthy, but superior to most foods in nutrients per dollar (and per acre of farmland), so much so that “in 2008, the United Nations declared it to be the ‘Year of the Potato.’” “This was done to bring attention to the fact that the potato is one of the most efficient crops for developing nations to grow, as a way of delivering a high level of nutrition to growing populations, with fewer needed resources than other traditional crops. In the summer of 2010, China approved new government policies that positioned the potato as the key crop to feed its growing population.” Potatoes provided much of the agricultural surplus that made the Industrial Revolution possible. Potatoes are more nutritious than other starchy foods like rice and bread, and “are a good source of vitamins.” They have a lot of vitamin C (much more than a banana or an apple), and potassium levels slightly higher than potassium-rich bananas). Potatoes also have all 8 essential amino acids, unlike most other staple foods like corn and beans.

Baylen Linnekin wrote earlier about “the sickening nature of many food-safety regulations,” like the “poke and sniff” inspection method required by the Agriculture Department “that likely resulted in USDA inspectors transmitting filth from diseased meat to fresh meat on a daily basis.”

Thousands of deaths from foolish food-safety rules have occurred in the past in other countries. A classic example occurred more than two centuries ago, when regional parliaments banned consumption of the potato in much of France, leading to a short-lived national ban beginning in 1748. “Among the host of diseases the government mistakenly attributed to consumption of the tuber was leprosy.” This ban was particularly harmful because at the time, France was plagued by recurrent famines, and banning potatoes reduced the amount of food per acre that could be grown. French officials banned the potato despite the fact that it had been cultivated for generations in neighboring Germany, where the potato saved villagers from starvation at the end of the Thirty Years War.

The Obama Administration has pushed very costly food “safety” rules, like the Food Safety Modernization Act, which has proved far more costly than supporters claimed, imposing large costs on orchard growers and other farmers. That law’s red tape may end up thwarting “firms from developing innovative new processes and practices that could deliver real food safety improvements” and could “leave tens of thousands of small and mid-sized farms and food stands to be crushed under the weight of rules designed for some of the world’s largest food processors.” Earlier versions of the bill backed by the Obama administration were even worse, and would have driven “out of business local farmers and artisanal, small-scale producers of berries, herbs, cheese, and countless other wares, even when there is in fact nothing unsafe in their methods of production.”

The Obama Administration perversely used federal funds to subsidize the opening of an International House of Pancakes in Washington, D.C. (despite its sugary menu), and the development of high-calorie foods that benefit politically connected agribusinesses.


Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. Hans also writes for CNS News and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

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