Monday, 8 July 2013

Bug alert

American cheese lovers are incensed that a rather tasty French cheese, mimolette, has been banned by the US government on the grounds that the cheese mites that give it such a tangy flavour could cause allergic reactions.

The French are also pretty cheesed off that 1.5 tonnes of the distinctive cheese, first made when Louis XIV wanted a domestic version of the Dutch cheese Edam, are rotting away in a warehouse and can’t be eaten.

The manufacturers claim that nobody has ever become ill from eating mimolette, that the cheese mites are essential for the taste, and just can’t understand the fuss. They say the cheese has been imported into the States for around 20 years with no previous problems.

After all, many foods that could cause allergic reactions – like peanuts and wheat - are on sale without any objection. Allergy-prone individuals are expected simply to avoid the offending items.

I’ve never tried any mimolette myself so I’ve no idea whether the special taste is worth fighting for or not. In fact until today I’d never heard of mimolette or for that matter milbenk√§se, another cheese that uses cheese mites.

Cheese lovers are protesting vigorously, especially on a “Save The Mimolette” Facebook page, whose slogan is “No to the Mimolette ban in the US! Let us eat stinky cheese!” The right to nibble freely is being stoutly upheld.

I imagine the only real hazard of eating mimolette, like cheese generally, would be a few extra pounds on the scales. But US food inspectors seem to have got it in for the poor defenceless cheese mites. What miserable killjoys!

Pic: not mimolette but something reassuringly mite-free....


  1. I am not squeamish when it comes to food. Just spare me the detail of what's on the plate. If I identify rabbit I may pass because their bodies remind me too much of that of cats'.

    My grandparents didn't have a fridge, only a north facing larder. So cheese would walk. Yes. No doubt, in today's psycho lingo, my four year old self be considered 'traumatized'. Wonder about roquefort.

    You know what, Nick: The world has gone mad. Allergies, my foot. A luxury you can't afford when you have nothing to eat. Ask prisoners of war. In Russia. Ca 1945. Potato peel will do just fine.

    Come to think of it, Nick: How much cheese do you, personally, like? Where do you draw the line? With any food stuff?


  2. Ursula: My parents were also fridgeless for many years and only had a larder. We must have wasted a huge amount of rotting food!

    Allergies - a tricky subject. Some allergies are doubtless genuine (like peanuts and wheat) but others are more dubious and I think often misdiagnosed.

    I love cheese of every description. I love trying new varieties. I wonder if I can get hold of some mimolette? I'm not at all squeamish about mites or mould. I'm squeamish about eating animals though....

  3. Good grief, when will the stupidity end?

    I thought it was well accepted these days that keeping yourself too clean and too protected against the 'livestock' in our environment was likely to cause more allergies, not fewer!

    But inserting flounder genes into strawberries to make them more cold-resistent, now that's crazy. Speaking as someone horribly allergic to flatfish, that does scare me. Cheese mites, not so much!

  4. Jay: As far as I know, there's no known cases of allergic reaction to mimolette, yet the US food inspectors are convinced of a hypothetical danger. What are they on?

    Goodness, flounder genes in strawberries. Does that mean strawberries might not be suitable for vegetarians?

  5. Hahah! Good point. I bet at least it has the vegans worried!

  6. Jay: I now read that the experiment failed and flounder-strawberries will never be a commercial proposition. Glad to hear it! Save the strawberries!

  7. Follow the money trail. What local American cheese competes with this cheese? You will have your answer.

    I don't see American Health Inspectors banning peanuts grown in the USA. Those peanuts cause death in some cases!

  8. Ramana: Good point. Red Rock Cheese looks quite similar - bright orange and crusty.

    You're surely right about peanuts as well, considering the vast quantity grown in the States and the huge demand for peanut butter.

  9. The allergy excuse does seem suspect.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Bloomberg is behind this. He's banning everything!

  10. Bijoux: Yes, no problem with the availability of peanuts, as Ramana points out.

    I wouldn't know about Mayor Bloomberg's views on mimolette. But my brief researches were interesting. I discovered that his daughter Georgina wonders if the horses that draw the carriages in Central Park are being looked after properly. And I discovered that Levi are now producing denim shapewear. How about that?

  11. Oh I wonder what American 'bleu' they are protecting?

  12. This from a country that sells Cheezwhiz? A GMO, petroleum based faux-dairy slime?



  13. Anon: I wonder too.

    www: Cheez Whiz looks pretty yukky, but I suppose no yukkier than all the other weird sauces and condiments people drown their food in.

  14. Perhaps the rest of the world should ban peanuts as they are well-known for their life-threatening allergic reactions.

  15. Liz: Ban peanuts? Impossible, I adore peanuts! How would I survive?

  16. No food should be banned because of potential allergies - just labeled clearly. It's not fair to keep everyone else from eating something just because some people have reactions to it. Those people should just watch what they're eating.

    But it's got to be for financial reasons.

  17. Agent: I agree, clear labelling (and common sense) is all that's needed. And I'm sure there's some financial motive behind the ban, it's so absurdly draconian.