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Nov 20, 2004 09:29 PM

att: Pregnant chowhounders! Cheese report!

  • j

Wanted to turn any fellow pregnant chowhounders on to a wonderful cheese I got yesterday at Whole foods. I was about to buy some Parmigianan Reggiano for them to grate for me, and then the very knowledgeable cheese man, asked me if this was for me? I said yes, that I could eat this, just not romano--he said, no- you can't because it's not pasteurized--I told him I thought it was aged long enough it didn't matter, and that it was from cow's milk not goat, and that it should be safe (I had eaten some in the past--not alot but a bit)...he said that I could only have domestic Reggiana and that it was awful--he kindly gave me some to taste, and he was right, yuk, salty sawdust---so as I deliberated on my current cheese state--no goat cheese (my favorite), no feta ( my every other day ritual), there had to be some alternative to pasterization and listeria! And, what in the world are all the pregnant Greek women doing, I ask, as well as the French! This cheese thing has gotten out of hand....and then, this kind man, said he knew what I could get, and would satisfy my ceaser salad craving---he suggested Piave cheese--and said he would grate it for me, first I tasted it, and wow, it was great, kinda like a cheddar asiago--and I thought it had a good bite for my salads and pastas ! This was pasterized, and from cow's milk-bingo-he saved me! Used it last night and today, and it's great---seems like it's kinda hard to find, but glad they had it, it runs about $15 a lb. So, whether you're preg or not, I highly reccomend checking it out...

Here's a little blurb I found about it on the web:

"Piave from northern italy-an elusive mountain cheese

This is a rarely tasted traditional cheese made high in the mountains of northern Italy, and it’s been one of my favorite eating cheeses for years. In truth, I’ve always been reluctant to reveal it here, for fear that already-limited supplies will become even more difficult to get. What’s so great about it? It’s simply one of the tastiest, most versatile cheeses I’ve ever tried. Excellent on polenta or in risotto. I don’t think I’ve met anyone yet who doesn’t like it. Its flavors are accessible enough to entice a cheese novice, yet more than complex enough to compel cheese fanatics to come back for more. It brings the smoothness of cheddar, the texture of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the mellowness of sweet mountain butter to your table."

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  1. With regards to what the European (Greek, Italian, etc.) pregnant women are doing, they are probably eating unpasteurized cheeses. I suspect pregnant women in Japan eat raw fish, too.

    I don't want to imply that Americans are paranoid, and perhaps knowing what I do if I were pregnant I'd also edit my diet a lot 'just in case', but just as women throughout the world give birth to healthy babies without ultrasounds, doctors or modern hospitals, a lot of the risks we worry about are out of proportion to the threats they pose.

    That said, have a safe and happy pregnancy, and enjoy your cheese!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Kate
      Josh Mittleman

      Imply away: Americans are paranoid. And more: Americans get paranoid over dopey little things that are statistically meaningless while ignoring big, dangerous things like automobile accidents that actually kill millions of people.

      1. re: Josh Mittleman

        Most cheese allowed in the US is pasteurized anyways. The risk of listeria is small overall. What about all the pollutants in the air and mercury in fish? We should try to fix the pollutants and proccessing/handling issuesthat lead to listeria vs telling people to avoid certain foods.
        LO (grumpy pregnant lady craving brie, oysters, seared tuna and lox)

        1. re: LO

          While perhaps "most" cheese allowed in the US is pasteurized, beware that very many are not. Virtually all hard cheeses, aged over 60 days, from farmstead and artisinal producers, and bigger ones as well, are not pasteurized. Besides Reggiano Parmesano, you have Grana Padana, most sheep's milk cheeses from Italy such as any Romano and Tuscano, most high mountain Alpine cheeses such as Gruyere, Beaufort, Tommes and Comte. Many cheeses from England are also raw milk, but again, these are all hard cheddars and cheddar-like. You can rely on pasteurization from almost any cheese from the Netherlands and Scandanavia, and commercially made, softer ones from England such as Cotswold. Also know that many American made cheddars are from raw milk, even ones you find in the grocery store sealed in wax.

          The vast amount of listerosis in this country comes from this country. Above it was mentioned that two women miscarried from eatting feta and I would bet this was an American made product. The chief culprits are cold cuts, hot dogs, pates, smoked seafood, hummus, and pasteurized American made cheeses. I personally have never heard of a case that someone contracted listeriosis from eatting Reggiano, and find the idea almost absurd. Contamination occurs when the processing plant gets the bug which then spreads to the product. With pasteurized milk, you are giving the bug a clean medium to have a barn dance, whereas with raw milk, there are antibodies present which help ward off unfriendly bacteria.

          I am no expert, and I have never been pregnant, and would never, ever suggest that one take any unnecessary risks with their food, but I am always far more concerned about things lurking in our own generated food supply then I am with hard, aged cheeses from Europe.

          1. re: Pat P

            In the end, when you are pregnant, you do what feels right to you...I am an over cautious person about safety to begin with, and these feelings get amplified when you are pregnant, so for me, I am following the warnings, as I would rather go without something for 9 months, than take any risk, that I could have some control over......I didn't know about the Reggiano but the cheese guy told me to stay away---so I am...and anyway, the new cheese I bought is wonderful, that I think I will stick with it, at any time!

            1. re: Janie

              I totally agree, but in the US we don't address the real issues at times, like fixing/regulating food handling processes that would reduce listeria risk and say, well, its just easier if we say don't eat X. We also downplay other risks, like water and air pollution. But like you said, its up to each person to do what is best for them.

              1. re: LO

                Yeah, it's weird with all the modernization, there has been less effort to do inspections, and regulations of facilities, especially with mad cow, and other problems, that the real sources are not being addressed===it's all about money, in the end.

            2. re: Pat P

              How in the world could you get listeria from hummus?

              1. re: DeeDee

                Beats me. A contaminated plant? A couple of years ago Three Tribes had a major recall for this. I remember because I had just bought a large container, and returned it to the store.

        2. re: Kate

          "a lot of the risks we worry about are out of proportion to the threats they pose."

          Everybody attaches different meaning to the risks figures they hear, depending on a number of different factors (e.g. the 'accessibility' of the outcome--did your best friend just have a miscarriage due to listeria? the magnitude of the harm that might result--a woman with infertility is probably less likely to do anything that might harm a pregnancy compared ot a woman who has not had infertility problems). Risk perception research has shown this, it's a natural, human tendency, and I don't think should be viewed as "worry out of proportion to the threats posed."

        3. Totally agree about the Piave. I tried it recently grated over some pasta and was really surprised how flavorful it was. Its a new favorite!

          1. I would just like to say that one can not be too cautious about what one eats during pregnancy. My sister, sisteen years ago, contracted listeria during her pregnancy, and she and her baby almost died. Happily, her son is a junior in high school now, and both are doing very well.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Amy

              I'm sorry to hear that, thank goodness she and the baby are alright. What did she eat that gave it to her? And what part of the country was she in, because I am in NYC, and 2 women, a couple years ago, contracted listeria from feta cheese in a restaurant in NY...and sadly, they lost their babies..but they were okay...

              1. re: Janie

                This is terrifying. I didn't even realize feta wasn't allowed. So much for keeping my head in the sand.

                1. re: hyacinthgirl

                  hyacinthgirl - this thread is from 2004 and a lot of the guidelines have changed. Basically if it cheese is pasturized, you can have it. From the Mayo Clinic (and confirmed when I asked my doctor):

                  Unless these soft cheeses are clearly labeled as being pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk, don't eat:

                  Blue cheese
                  Mexican-style cheeses, such as queso blanco, queso fresco and panela

                  Just check your labels and you should be fine!

                  1. re: EmBrooks

                    I saw it on the new cheeseboard where I thought all the posts were new, whoops! Thanks so much!