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Jan 29, 2009 08:26 AM

The U.S. "war on roquefort"

I don't think anybody has posted this, in case it's of interest:

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  1. Totally absurd. I am going to buy some Roquefort today, and start eating local grassfed beef only. I am surprised Americans aren't turning yellow with all of the corn products we are fed. Enough with this @$#%!

    1. Our new President like to eat well. How long before this one will be rescinded? any guesses?

      Yes, we now have great American blue cheeses, but, imho, nothing that is as ethereal as Roquefort.

      45 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Obama can eat Maytag Blue. This is the least of his problems.
        The new duties were in response to the EU blocking importation of US beef. We need the exports - and the JOBS.

        This is all likely to escalate anyway since Obama expanded the Depression-era "Buy American" trade restrictions to the infrastructure projects in the stimulus package, which is likely to spark serious retaliation abroad against US companies and exacerbate the global financial crisis.

        Who knows what products will be next? Or if you'll be able to afford them?

        1. re: ChefJune

          "How long before this one will be rescinded? any guesses?"

          The article in the Washington Post correctly states:

          "The United States first imposed unusual 100 percent tariffs on Roquefort in 1999, when the dispute with the European Union over hormoned-up beef first got nasty. "

          Here's the details on the 1999 blow:

          Or in other words:
          a) this started under Clinton,
          b) after 10 years, it's now getting worse.
          c) My guess: you probably don't want to hear.

          1. re: RicRios

            RR: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Clinton didn't start this, as it was preceded by an act made 10 years prior, in 1989, during the last days of the Reagan presidency (prior to Bush Sr's inauguration):
            "On January 1, 1989 the European Economic Community (EEC) placed a ban on hormone-treated U. S. meat, preventing U. S. meat products from being sold in any European nations."

            This was briefly reversed in 1994 before becoming permanent by the end of 1999.


            Regarding Roquefort, why the need for Bush Jr. to put a 300% tariff 1 week prior to the completion of his term? He had 8 years to to put this retaliatory measure in for the 1999 and 1989 bans on US hormone-fed beef.

            I'm continuing on my quest to eat locally, and will report back if I happen to find any Roquefort worthy blues from some of the smaller producers here.

            1. re: Caralien

              I think the Bush administration put the tariff on Roquefort cheese specifically so as to punish José Bové. Not only was José the instigator of the 1999 dismantling of the McDonald's in Millau, in the same year he was also one of the main speakers at the WTO protest in Seattle, which, as you may recall, did not turn out so well for the government. In 2006 he was not allowed entry into the US and I assume is not able to return. He also has a sheep farm in France which supplies milk to... Roquefort cheese producers.

              1. re: Caralien

                These tariffs are pursuant to a decision of the WTO, a treaty to which the US is a signatory, and these tariffs have been added by bureaucrats, without regard to who's in the White House. They pick some products to make the point that protectionism is bad, nothing more.

                As much as you, kraskland, and some others might like another swing at the Bush pinata, these are not decisions that ever get run by the president's desk.
                Do you think Obama is going to make decisions on Irish oatmeal? Doesn't he have a few more important things on his plate?

                The tit-for-tat on tariffs takes months and years. The rule making is in the works for a long time and the timing is likely completely coincidental.
                These things are like yo-yos and they only make the news when there's a good story involved.
                Would you have cared if they had slapped a tariff on processed cheese from Bulgaria?
                Nobody would care. That wouldn't even make the news.

                This is our trade negotiators doing their job to keep markets open for US products.
                It saves US jobs and creates new ones.
                We need them.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  The pathetic truth is that the US purchases account for a whopping 2% of roquefort production, so this is hardly a knockout punch. I'm sure that Spain will gladly buy up any surplus.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Spain is a member of the EU = no duty.

                    We tacked these high tariffs on a panoply of products from all the EU countries to spread the pain and make the point.
                    That's why the bureaucrats go out of their way to choose products that the public recognizes.
                    In one previous battle in the trade wars, we picked Louis Vuitton products. How many people do high prices designer bags really affect? The point is that they're a well-known French product that is advertised widely in fashion media so the move gets free attention for the otherwise totally mind-numbing and boring subject of trade barriers.
                    This is about jobs. Keeping them and creating new ones.
                    Keeping markets open is a critical factor in our economy.
                    These things are only tools.
                    We can make do with Stilton and Maytag Blue.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Stilton, Maytag blue, and Gore-Dawn-Zola, makes for a decadent cornucopia for a cheese mouse. You should check out Boucher Farm for the G-D-Z, plus they have a longer-aged blue that is almost as hard as a rock that is ambrosia.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        So now we just have to figure out how to live without "French truffles, Irish oatmeal, Italian sparkling water and 'fatty livers of ducks and geese,' which apparently is how Washington trade bureaucrats say foie gras," which according to the WaPo are some of the other goodies that are now going to be sooooo expensive that we had best forget about them.
                        At least we have "made in America" alternatives for most or they were so expensive to begin with that this affects few of us. We'll live.

                        In the meantime? My local Harris-Teeter has a great no-name domestic Bleu at $5.99/lb that works great for cooking. Might not put it on a cheese tray, but hey! Times are tough and it's a good deal for most recipes.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          I've been experimenting with domestic Oregon truffles. So far, the white truffles are winning when it comes to flavour and potency. The preserved imported one was unimpressive, and at 2/3 the cost for 1/10th the weight of the of the domestic truffles, won't be purchased again.

                          I'm also tempted to progure a couple of geese from the local fields--maybe one or 2 to eat now, a pair to fatten up for next year? DIY foie gras! They're everywhere here. I've heard they make great gatekeepers, but our dog may get jealous and the cat would probably do something dumb, like try to be friendly and say hello.

                          I was wondering about the anti-foie movement of the past few deduction of what was written above, it was started by Washington to hurt French imports, but instead has primarily hurt domestic producers because the movement caused cities to ban the delicacy (at least for sale by restaurants)--even when made from free range happy ducks and geese who normally gorge themselves silly each autumn. Good going Washington. Now please get back to working on things that matter to more people, and I'll continue to plot methods for procuring a goose while nobody is looking. I've heard they like edamane.

                          1. re: Caralien

                            Oops, can't keep those wild geese. It's against Federal regs to keep wild game. Found that out when a friend rescued an injured fawn a few years ago.
                            They're also mean. Your dog and cat would not be happy.

                            The foie gras ban, such as in Chicago, was an animal rights thing. Your "deduction" gives Washington trade bureaucrats far more devious power than they have time or juice for.
                            Domestic foie gras is easily available from Hudson Valley, D'Artagnan and some other sources. The raw product hasn't been importable for years like other raw meats, only processed - like in tins.
                            Or you can use Michel Richard's recipe for "Faux Gras" made with chicken livers, a pretty darned good imitation of the real thing at a fraction of the cost.
                            There are some others inventing ways to get around the various bans and high prices that have been depriving us of some of our favorite indulgences:

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              What if I stole some eggs after getting the geese drunk? And raised them?

                              I do like the faux gras recipe. Thanks for sharing!

                              1. re: Caralien

                                Nope. Sorry. Goes by the species. Who's your mama? You have to get a Federal license to keep them.

                                I have finally persuaded friends who hunt to keep livers, hearts, etc. for me from the game they kill.
                                It was even a problem at first to get them to bring me whole ducks and geese. They field dress them by "breasting" them, removing just the breast and chucking the rest for the vultures and other wild animals. I wanted those legs and thighs for confit and gumbo. After I got a few of them and passed on the cooked goodies, the rewards started coming my way. Of course, I have to clean the danged things. Makes a major mess of the kitchen with feathers everywhere if it's too cold to do it outside.

                                The wild livers make good pates, although they can be pretty strong sometimes. Venison livers and hearts are very good. Some of the smaller upland birds make seriously nice terrines.

                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  Two young Wall Street retirees on the upper Hudson are now the largest producer of domestic foie gras. With domestic foie gras, Caralien's Oregon truffles, and Boucher Farm's and Maytag blue cheese, why do we need France (except for Bastille day, cemeteries, and champagne)?

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Maytag blue cheese? it's okay, but there are at least a dozen American blues that top it in 2009! imho. and a bunch of other folks.

                                    OTOH, there REALLY is no substitute for Roquefort.

                                  2. re: MakingSense

                                    There are plenty of geese kept as domestic farm animals in the U.S., and one could certainly fatten them up for foie. Lots of labor involved, however, and the technique is tricky -- you can't just throw them extra food. (The method used to fatten geese for their livers is what has caused some animal lovers to cry "fowl!")

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      They do gorge themselves in the wild too, albeit without the feeding tube. All things considered, those geese have pretty good lives, free from predators and having to search for food, but I'm a reformed vegetarian, so what do I know. :)

                                      Oh, and the black truffles made up for things today in tonight's roasted chicken.

                                      1. re: Caralien

                                        Four million golfers, plus me, have slipped and fallen from goose tirds, onto still more more goose tirds, that it is impossible to remain neutral on the subject.
                                        I would be an advocate of goose egg recipes, to nip the problem at its origin. I don't mean to deflect the war on roquefort to include geese, also.
                                        Actually, I do.

                    2. re: MakingSense

                      I never said this decision went by Bush's desk. I'm sure it did go by Susan Schwab's desk though, seeing as she's the International Trade Rep for Bush. That's the whole point of having a cabinet. To delegate.

                      As for Maytag blue that you mention below, it's good and all, but it is certainly not the same cheese as Roquefort. Actually, it's not very close at all.

                2. re: ChefJune

                  No time soon, most likely. No affordable roquefort for you all until you clean up the beef supply over there. I sympathize, but I sure am glad that our regulators are keeping the junk out.

                  And in case anyone is wondering, it's not a ban on US beef, just the stuff junked up on hormones. The German fascination with things American extends to meat, and I've seen hormone-free midwestern beef on menus across the Rhine. Too bad so many Americans can get themselves whipped up into a nationalistic fervor over hormones.

                  1. re: tmso


                    Don't kid yourself that the EU concerns are any less nationalistic (if that term can be applied here). Hormones are a convenient scapegoat to protect their own beef producers.

                    1. re: kmcarr

                      Hence the price of US wine anywhere outside of the US is exhorbitant, while the imported varieties are closer to the prices sold in the home market. (I'm not the least bit an isolationist, but this is an anti-competitive issue which was agreed upon but the diplomats in exchange for favoured nation status trade of different item X or voting with the US or against country Y regarding the policies of country Z...)

                      It's only politics. :)

                      Raw milk cheeses and dry cured (raw) sausages were recently prevented from being banned from import into the US, weren't they?

                      1. re: kmcarr

                        There is of course an element of protectionism motivating it, but essentially the matter *is* one of controlling the quality of the food supply. There would be outrage here if hormon-laden beef were approved for import. In contrast, there is both international competition within the EU (Irish beef undercutting the French while maintaining the same quality), as well as high quality beef that gets imported from Argentina, which is in the dollar zone. If American ranchers would drop the insistance on hormones, they could do very well in some European markets. Instead they try to whip up nationalism in defence of their dubious practices. A comparable situation would be if US ranchers got their act together and the EU put tarifs in place against them.

                        The worst thing about this situation is that Americans are being denied both cleaner beef *and* French cheeses! And yeah, the utter inavailability over here of decent California zinfandel and Washington State sauvignon blanc is pretty criminal too.

                        1. re: tmso

                          Your opinion notwithstanding, the WTO decided in 1989 that it was protectionism pure and simple.
                          They gave the US the right to impose duties on products from the EU to compensate for their losses.
                          Both the EU and the US are signatories to a binding international treaty that is designed to prevent protectionism.

                          Let the beef in, allow people to be outraged if they choose.
                          We'll be happy with the lower priced Roquefort.
                          Are you still paying ludicrous prices for bananas?

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            Fortunately for the US, mad cow (Creutzfeldt-Jakob) disease has not been something the US beef market was damaged by. Reducing or omitting hormones is something which the US would have profited by during that horrible period in Europe (I was studying there at the time, but was a vegetarian then too).

                            Roquefort is an amazing cheese. But consumers should be aware that food is only a blip when it comes to international trade. My parents sent me a care package to Japan--in 1988--which included rice cakes. It was held up in customs for 6 weeks, due to the then Japanese ban on American rice imports. Silly, yes, but it happens.

                            1. re: Caralien

                              BSE did hurt US beef exports to Japan after they banned it in December, 2003. It finally got up to $400 million by fiscal 07, about 1/3 of its pre-ban levels.
                              One of the difficulties was regaining public acceptance in Japanese markets. I did a project assisting Japanese investigative journalists working on the story in the US on our beef inspection system. Their conclusion was that the US system was safe and so was the beef which would be exported to Japan.
                              US beef is about 20% of the Japanese market and the lack of it drove up domestic prices, harming moderately priced restaurants catering to the middle class and of course supermarket prices.

                              The food fights are barely even minor skirmishes in the trade wars.
                              They only get our attention because we know the brand names. The money comes out of a Vuitton handbag to pay for the Roquefort and we celebrate with Dom Perignon. That's why the US chooses well-known products - to make a statement and get attention.
                              There are major problems with other countries that are seriously damaging to our manufacturing base and that means US JOBS, something that we can not afford right now. In most of those cases, we don't have cheesy leverage.
                              We are running the risk of this getting worse and damaging the economy even further.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                BSE was not and is not in US beef; it was in UK and European beef.
                                That said, the US was hurt in its ability to export beef due to BSE (Europe) and hormone laden US beef, which was restricted and banned prior to BSE.

                                I want the US economy to improve, and don't agree with isolationism. I also believe that we should get Roquefort, jamon, raw milk cheeses, and other delicacies from around the world.

                                My recent desire to test out locally procured foods is less from necessity than from a desire to learn what is around me. Is it good? Is NJ as good as CA when it comes to wine? Cheese? Meat? Dairy? Some yes, some no. Beer, definitely as good or better than from abroad or across the country.

                                I too studied international trade and understand the bs that is most of it. I also believe that there is much the US can invest in to recreate new jobs for existing and new industry. The fact that the US would survive quite well even as an isolationist country (fuel, food, industry can definitely be procured stateside for whatever we need) provides me with the comfort that there's more that can be done.

                                If the country were more efficient, we wouldn't need imports. But again, I like my jamon, roquefort, prosciutto, wine & spirits, and other things I can procure at reasonable prices from abroad. If the same stuff were made as good stateside, well, that's my new purveyor. But I'd still eat locally on my travels.

                                1. re: Caralien

                                  Good point, Caralien.
                                  The one scare in the US was NOT a cow from the US. But it caused a LOT of grief for the US cattle industry and harmed both the domestic market and our exports for a long time.
                                  There are still a lot of people worried about BSE unnecessarily and our trade people are STILL fighting battles over it. How much of that is truly because of BSE, and how much is protectionism using BSE as a convenient excuse is anybody's guess.

                                  The food products that we discuss on CH are a drop in the bucket as part of our international trade but the same principles apply.
                                  Barriers are bad.
                                  Some of this is national security. Roquefort isn't.
                                  We're importing 70% of our petroleum, only 40% of which is used for cars. The oil embargo of the mid 1970s plunged this country into that recession which was even worse for average Americans than the current state of affairs. We had higher inflation and unemployment that we do now and soaring interest rates.
                                  U.S. reliance on mineral imports has nearly doubled from 1996 to 2006, according to the USGS. The U.S. now relies on imports for more than 50 percent of at least 45 mineral commodities, up from 22 import dependent
                                  minerals in 1996. This is at the base of our military, construction, and manufacturing capability. We don't have domestic sources for many of these minerals.

                                  We import so many raw materials that nobody ever thinks about. Trade encompasses far more than food or the stuff we see at Wal-Mart.

                                2. re: MakingSense

                                  You are right, in that national protectionism, isolationism, tariffs and tit-for-tat political idiocy will only exacerbate the world's economic woe's.
                                  But we are now talking about a SERIOUS subject: CHEESE.
                                  We do have cheesy leverage. Our own cheese; it's not hiding. Ever try Gore-Dawn-Zola from Boucher farms in Vermont? Between it and Maytag from Iowa and many in between, we can "suffer" without roquefort, if we must..:) Our own, plus a few Canadiens, are on par.

                            2. re: tmso

                              I hope you folks stick to your guns and refuse to buy crappy beef. Here in the U.S., I buy free-range, grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat from local farms. I pay more, but it's worth it to me. (Besides, the stuff tastes great!)

                              1. re: tmso

                                tmso, having lived in the states and now in Europe, I agree with you. What most Americans just don't understand is how high of food quality Europeans expect and get. The idea of hormone-treated beef is as appalling here as hot dogs injected with lead would be in the states.

                                1. re: kraskland

                                  kraskland--it depends on where in Europe you are living, the same is true in the US. I've lived (and backpacked, and visited) many European countries which didn't have very good produce, in part due to distribution channels. In CA and NJ, buying locally is easy and not as expensive as in less agricultural states. Seasonally too. The fact that more Americans are demanding better produce which are free of pesticides, hormones, and other icks is a great trend (which I hope becomes more mainstream), but that is somewhat off the OPs topic.

                                  1. re: kraskland

                                    I'm not sure how you would know what "most Americans" do and do not "understand" about what "Europeans expect and get," but it is unlikely to be very different from what the citizens of any country want and get.
                                    Europe's unemployment rate consistently runs 50% above that of the US and we're hurting. That means that large numbers of people in Europe are too, which limits their food choices.

                                    Chronic unemployment is much higher among your immigrant groups in the outer reaches of your major cities and among those in rural areas who don't have access to high quality markets.
                                    The foodstuffs available in supermarkets in the EU are the same type of mass market processed stuff that we see in the US with different labels. Frankly, some of it is lower quality because your working and lower classes have less disposable income and are forced to spend a much higher percentage of their income on food than Americans do.

                                    The ban on US beef leading to the Roquefort War harms these people the most.
                                    Americans aren't dropping dead from steaks, burgers, and all-beef hot dogs. There are some who disagree with the policy of allowing the use of hormones. Heck, there are some who disagree with eating meat at all. Most of us have no problem with US beef. It is broadly consumed, even by well-educated, informed consumers.
                                    Let the MARKET decide.
                                    The EU will not do that.
                                    They prefer to close the European market to US beef, keeping prices high for their own consumers, including the unemployed, the lower and working classes, the struggling immigrants and middle class families who are having a difficult time, especially during this world-wide recession.

                                    US consumers can do without some luxury products. Little pain there. It's a small part of the market and we have substitutes.
                                    Cutting off US beef keeps the cost of food artificially high across the board for EU consumers.
                                    Maybe they can eat the Roquefort we can't afford.

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      U.S. beef (hormone- and antibiotic-laden as it is) is broadly consumed by Americans because most of us have no choice: that's what you get at the supermarket. At farmers' markets throughout Europe you can see people of all stations in life eying the food on hand with a keen eye. They are willing to forego Ipods and mobile phones, large-screen TV's and personal trainers. They are NOT willing to compromise on food quality and they do NOT want to be dictated to by Americans about what they choose to eat. Fancy that. The truly poor grow their own whenever they can, keep chickens for eggs, and largely do without meat, except on festive occasions. In short, they live like European peasants always have -- Coq au Vin, anyone?

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        Just as in the U.S., 100 people shop at the hypermarche or the Coop for every person who makes it to a weekly market, and just as it is here, the general level of the stuff is pretty low. It is perhaps easier to find a decent farm egg in France, Italy and Spain than it is in the U.S., and if you are flush, you can sometimes buy better chickens or charcuterie, but even expensive beef in Europe tends to be far inferior to what you routinely find in the U.S., kissed by hormones or not.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          Most of us are familiar with the lovely markets in Western European capitals. The heart of Paris, the Tuscan hills, Rome, Vienna, Munich. Even those not fortunate enough to have traveled to Europe see them in food magazines, recreated in the Old Country at Disney World, or referred to in merchandising displays in American stores.

                                          They are lovely but it is a fantasy to believe that all Western Europeans shop there, just as it would be foolish to think that all Americans shop at Whole Foods or Dean and Deluca.
                                          Western Europe has a similar economic stratification to that of the US. There are large supermarket all over Western Europe which would not exist if they were not patronized.

                                          People have the right to make choices. They may not make the same choice that you make or the choice that the EU elites have made for them.
                                          How interesting that you think of the poor as "peasants."

                                          Further, there are 27 countries in the EU, not all of them as prosperous as Western Europe: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia. Waiting to be admitted are: Croatia, Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Montenegro. Not sure what they'll do about Kosovo if it doesn't solve the Serbia problem.

                                          The majorities in those countries are hardly foregoing luxury goods so they can buy upscale food products. In many cases, they're still living in the old Soviet-era concrete apartments where vegetable gardening and chickens are hardly feasible, or barely rebuilding their war-torn cities.
                                          Unemployment is high as are poverty rates. There has been enormous displacement because of decades of war.
                                          Even Western Europe has been affected by migrations of new immigrants to their cities, increasing unemployment and poverty.

                                          The bottom line is that the WTO has ruled that the EU ban on the importation of US beef is illegal under international treaties.
                                          It deprives the majority of the people of the entire EU, many of whom are poor, of a product that would lower their cost of living. The elites who dictate trade policy are more interested in protecting a few agricultural interests than the welfare of the common people.
                                          We may miss out on a few luxury products but the cost of living remains unnecessarily high for the average EU member. This hurts them far more than it hurts the average American, except for the jobs it cost the US economy.

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            A couple quick points that come to mind. Sorry no time to elaborate.

                                            1) "The elites who dictate trade policy are more interested in protecting a few agricultural interests than the welfare of the common people."

                                            I'm afraid "the welfare of the common people"you are referring to is rather the economical advantage of huge US agro businesses such as Monsanto, Cargill and the like. In other words, let's call both sides of the issue by their real names: Huge EU subsidies versus huge US corporate welfare.

                                            2) "the cost of living remains unnecessarily high for the average EU member"

                                            You seem to forget the enormous benefits most citizens of the EU get from the bare bones fact of being born there: health, safety net, etc etc.

                                            1. re: RicRios

                                              Health? All of Europe for most citizens? It's a big place, and making blanket assumptions across a myriad of countries is unrealistic. The safety net is not as good as you may think either, hence in other places there too remains great class distinctions and distributions of wealth, in addition to limited access to the expensive delicacies enjoyed primarily by the few, except perhaps during the holiday season.

                                              Public health and security (retirement) benefits even in the better developed countries of Western Europe have been diminishing steadily since I lived there 12 years ago, and even then there were outcries about the already diminished benefits.

                                              1. re: RicRios

                                                The only relevant fact is that the EU violated the terms of an international trade treaty to which they are a signatory.
                                                They did this with impunity, knowing that they can garner support from anti-corporate elitists in Western Europe and the US, which clouds the issue at hand.
                                                That is irrelevant under the law, and their actions harm the less wealthy member countries of the EU, as well as economically struggling citizens in all member countries.
                                                The WTO decision recognizes that the EU action harms the US economy, costing American jobs.

                                                Please refer to the list of current and soon-to-be members of the EU to acquaint yourself with the wide range of countries that are included.
                                                The same benefits of "being born there," i.e., "health, safety net, etc., which many Americans may associate with the Democratic Socialist paradise of Western Europe may not apply equally.
                                                It would be unreasonable to think that you would find the same benefits of Sweden or France in Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Albania, Bosnia, or Kosovo.

                                          2. re: MakingSense

                                            I was born and raised in the states, so I know a little about how Americans and its government, in general, thinks. When I first moved overseas, I sure did not understand food safety and quality expectations in the EU.

                                            Like you said, the mass market food in EU and US is largely similar. The difference is the safety of the food. For example, frequently the US has recalls for e. coli and salmonella in food. The really troubling part is these recalls only happen after a sufficient number of people have gotten sick and/or died. How about Peanut Corp? Some 500 people sick and 8 dead. The plant hasn't been inspected in 8 years. Now there's a criminal probe into the matter. The FDA was even at the plant in June and October looking for metal fragments in the peanut butter. Why didn't they check for salmonella at the time? That should be routine.

                                            A lot of people here (and in the states) just don't trust the US food supply. And why should they? If additional problems with hormones in food comes to light, is the US government going to tell the public? The factory ranchers sure aren't.

                                            Letting the market decide is fine and all, but not when it comes to the safety of the public.

                                            1. re: kraskland

                                              if you do a google search on "food contamination europe 2008", you will find that there are problems with EU produced foods as well as imported foods.

                                              here's one from December 2008, with a pig product recall:
                                              (it took a few weeks to locate the source of the problem, as with the peanut contamination).

                                              Remember that BSE was in Europe, became widespread by Europeans and by their treatment and feeding ground up animal parts to vegetarian animals to get around the no-hormone laws.

                                              Up to date information on EU food scares and ongoing policy changes, trade wars, and other food related goodies:

                                              "Let whichever of you is free from sin (or in this case, free from corrupt and unethical practises) throw the first stone"

                                              There's no nirvana where inspectors are frequent and thorough enough, and all corporations and governemtns are benevolent. Some of the places that produce and process spices, cocoa, salt, amongst other things, might not be to your (or the US or EU) standards either. To assume that only in the US will there be problems is ridiculous.

                                              Back to the cheese. If I can't get Roquefort here, I might actually have to go to Canada to pick some up when we go kayaking in Lake Champlain.

                                              1. re: Caralien

                                                I did not say there were no problems in Europe. I do think that the inspections are more frequent and wider. For example, in the pork recall you mention, the dioxin was found during a regular inspection.

                                                1. re: kraskland

                                                  You assume that inspection is uniform in the borderless EU.
                                                  "Domestic herds of pigs in Germany are free of trichinae aside from very rare isolated cases. By contrast, in other countries (like for instance Romania, Poland, Croatia, Serbia, Lithuania, Latvia) both domestic pigs and wild boars may be infected with these parasites."
                                                  All EU countries or countries pending membership.

                                                  Trichinosis has been virtually unknown in the US for decades because of strict inspections and import standards.
                                                  People may complain about not being able to import sausages and meats without special clearances, but it has kept the US food supply safe.

                                              2. re: kraskland

                                                "A lot of people here (and in the states) just don't trust the US food supply."

                                                With all the food scares Europe has had in recent years, I don't really get why people think their food supply is so much better than everyone else's.

                                                Here's an academic paper on how food scares have affected EU policy:


                                                Here's their handy chart with a timeline of some of the bigger food scares:


                                                1. re: kraskland

                                                  You continue in the fallacy that the EU is ONE homogeneous entity. It is a GROUP of diverse countries ranging from highly sophisticated, wealthy, developed countries like France, Germany, and Sweden, which have had strict laws in place for a long time, and the developing countries of Eastern Europe which have nothing of the sort.

                                                  In short, the EU is not a monolith in food production, handling, or in consumer expectations.
                                                  Neither is the US.
                                                  In New York City alone there are 248 census tracts classified as in “extreme poverty” in which more than 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. In Washington DC, 52% of children live below the poverty line.
                                                  Western Europe is no different. Their extremely poor are just as invisible. They are even less visible to the US because our media covers them less than they cover our own problems.

                                                  Do you remember the riots in Paris? According to a 2005 ABC News report: "Thirty-seven percent of all immigrants in France live in the Paris region, according to 1999 census data...Because of the difficulty integrating into French society, many young males of African and Arab descent work for the lowest wages and often live in ghettos where crime is rampant...Unemployment in the Paris "immigrant ghettos": 20 to 40 percent, according to varying sources...[In 2004,] more than 100,000 people competed for 12,000 available subsidized housing units in Paris, according to official figures."

                                                  What people have the freedom to select because of their economic security is very different from what people choose when their struggles to survive political upheaval and economic chaos render other considerations secondary.
                                                  Trade barriers maintain prices at an artificially high levels across the board and make life more difficult for those who struggle.

                                                  Policy should not be made on what we "think" we know about how "Americans and its government think" or how we assume that any group or government "thinks."
                                                  Policy is only sound when it is based on solid data.

                                    2. Apparently this war didn't last long. Roquefort is still the king of cheeses in the U.S. I don't think any cheese but Epoisses would inspire me to post on Chowhound about it. Roquefort with roasted nuts and Epoisses get three Michelin stars.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sushigirlie

                                        I agree with Epoisses, still a few months away; can I add St. Agur? It's incredible, and complementary.