Edible Brooklyn has coverage of a Food and Drug Administration crackdown on high-end cheese. The regulatory surge has affected both domestically produced (Wisconsin-based Uplands Cheese's Rush Creek Reserve) and imported cheese, frustrating cheesemongers, makers, and consumers:
The FDA has greatly increased the number of "Holds" and "FDA Import Alerts" placed on cheeses coming into the country, with even time-tested classics like Roquefort getting stopped at the border. Of particular focus for the FDA is "non-toxigenic E Coli" — harmless strains of the coliform which may be present in the cheese but pose no danger to consumers. Rather, their presence is used as a marker to indicate poor hygiene and sanitation practices during production and therefore the risk of other health threats.
This approach works great for pasteurized-milk cheeses, in which any E. coli (toxigenic or not) should have been killed by the high temperatures. But in raw milk cheeses, the presence of non-toxigenic E Coli is not unexpected, so if you're looking for it, you'll end up flagging many cheeses which are perfectly safe. The limits for nontoxigenic E. coli were dropped to just 10 MPN (most probable number) per gram, from the former limit of 100 MPN — an extremely low limit. After protests from the American Cheese Society and other industry voices, the FDA issued a statement clarifying that they were not banning Roquefort or other cheeses, and had raised the limit back up to 100 MPN. But for many raw milk cheeses, this limit may still be too low, and some find the statement hollow....
French exporter Pascal Beillevaire (affineurs of coveted cheeses like Colombier des Pigeons, Tomme Brulée, Vendéen Bichonne and others) has even announced that for the time being they will no longer be shipping to the US due to financial losses caused by repeated holds on their shipments by the FDA. All of this creates a troubling period for cheese professionals and consumers alike.