As we go to press with this issue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a health advisory regarding soft cheeses made with raw milk. According to a March 14, 2005, FDA statement, certain raw-milk soft cheeses present a serious health risk, especially to high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
The cheeses of most concern—queso fresco–style varieties—can cause serious infectious diseases, including salmonella and tuberculosis.
According to the statement, the “FDA recommends that consumers do not eat any unripened raw milk soft cheeses from Mexico, Nicaragua or Honduras. Data show they are often contaminated with pathogens. [The] FDA further recommends that consumers not purchase or consume raw milk soft cheeses from sources such as flea markets, [from] sellers operating door-to-door or out of their trucks, or shipped or carried in luggage to them from Mexico, Nicaragua or Honduras. This includes cheeses made at home by individuals.”