December Masthead
Cheese & Fromage:
Common Cultures

ACS is pleased to share a letter from the mayor of Montr�al, welcoming ACS members to the city in August. In the letter, Mayor Tremblay describes Montral as "a thriving cultural metropolis that enjoys an outstanding reputation for its artistic creativity, its culinary excellence and, of course, the friendly welcome it extends to visitors."

To illustrate the city's culinary excellence, Bon Appetit magazine recently published the "food lover's montreal," filled with tips on the best spots to eat and drink. From seared foie gras on spice bread, to house-made boudin, to maple syrup drizzed over crushed ice, possibilities for enjoying an incredible meal in Montral are endless. This is just one of many reasons why ACS members will fall in love with the city next August!

Montreal Food Images
Photos: Yannick Grandmont

ACS Members in Canada:
La Moutonni�re
by Liz Campbell

La Moutonniere
Lucille Giroux and Alastair MacKenzie


How many women do you know who would buy themselves a Christmas gift of 33 ewes and two rams?

Lucille Giroux, cheesemaker and co-owner of La Moutonni�re farm treated herself to just that in 1995. It started in 1992, when the Quebec cheesemaker and shepherd who had by then been raising sheep for 15 years, decided to try her hand at cheesemaking. Using milk from her herd, she began making feta cheese. But with no aging facilities and a low milk production from her meat animal, it soon became apparent that she would have to get a dairy herd. So she set out to find some. (read more)

ACS Position Statements

On November 17, ACS released two position statements developed by the Board of Directors in response to recent industry events and media coverage. The position statements are available on the ACS homepage, or they may be downloaded below:

ACS at the National Wine Experience in D.C.

On November 20, ACS staff introduced 1,000 wine aficionados to more than 30 different American cheeses at the National Wine Experience in Washington, D.C. Thanks to all of the producers who participated in this first annual event! 

A tremendous thank you is also owed to the staff at DPI's facility in Upper Marlboro, MD for accepting cheese shipments for the event, as well as to Cowgirl Creamery for allowing ACS staff to prep cheeses in their Washington, D.C. shop!

Photos of the event can be seen on the ACS Facebook page. 

NWE Table

The Ultimate Winter Comfort Food: Mac and Cheese

As temperatures drop and snow begins to fall at the ACS headquarters in Denver, thoughts turn to the quintessential winter comfort food - warm, creamy macaroni and cheese.

In the spirit of the season, please enjoy a sampling of our favorite recipes:

Macaroni with Ham and Blue Cheese

Macaroni and Humboldt Fog Cheese

Caramelized Sweet Potato, Garlic and Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese

Beecher's "World's Best Mac and Cheese"

Double-Dutch Mac and Cheese with Chard

Mac and Cheese
Photo: Antonis Achilleos

8th Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference

The 2011 Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference will take place from Saturday,  February 26 through Wednesday, March 2. Along with special events like the Bi-Rite Market & Creamery Cheese Reception and the Winter Artisan Cheese Fair, a full conference program of speakers - including a keynote from Zingermans' Ari Weinzweig - will offer opportunities for members of the cheese industry to network and learn from one another.

Contact Sheana Davis (707-938-2929)
or see the Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference press release for more details, or to make your reservations.

Cheese in the News

$860K Donated to OSU for Dairy Center: Statesman Journal, December 2

Results of World Cheese Awards 2010: Talking Retail, November 30

Whole Foods Recalls 7 Varieties of Cheddar Cheese: New York Daily News, November 29

Is that Raw Milk Safe to Eat? Cheese Trade Group Says 'Yes,' If Made Right: EIN PressWire, November 23

Cheesemaker Defies FDA Over Recall: The New York Times, November 19

Raw-milk cheese faces new scrutiny:The Fresno Bee, November 13

Katie Couric's Notebook - Cheese: CBS News, November 9

How can the USDA simultaneously be pro-cheese and anti-fat?:, November 8

Murray's Cheese and Kroger: How's That For a Cheese Pairing?: Houston Press, November 8

While warning about fat, U.S. pushes cheese sales: The New York Times, November 6

Raw-milk cheese in the Northwest, elsewhere on the FDA radar: The Oregonian, November 6

Moving the cheese from starter plate to dessert tray: National Public Radio, November 3


At Year's End: Reflection and Anticipation

As another yChristine Hyattear draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the achievements of 2010: a successful transition to self-management (the association is now under the direction of a passionate, dedicated, and talented staff) and a conference chock full of informative, dynamic and provocative sessions.

I also look forward to all that lies ahead: our first international conference in Montr�al, a new website, and the launch of American Cheese Week! Yet, with all the good things on the horizon, there is also some uncertainty. 

These past few months have been challenging for many in our community.  We are reminded of the need to constantly re-evaluate food safety procedures at all stages of the production and distribution chain, even as we acknowledge and celebrate the idea that great cheese is made safely by farmstead, artisan and specialty cheesemakers each and every day. I wholeheartedly believe that the world is a better and richer place because of the incredible diversity of cheese being produced by our talented members!

The ACS board and staff have been hard at work wrestling with the myriad of fronts on which we can make a difference. Our efforts include:

  • Updating valuable resources available to members online.
  • Conducting a survey of current inspection trends amongst cheesemakers. (Read the results)
  • Developing new educational offerings on food safety.
  • Publishing official ACS Position Statements in support of our members.

Certainly, our industry is in unprecedented territory at this moment in time. Responding proactively to real concerns about the health and safety of our products is absolutely critical. Equally important is the preservation and safe implementation of centuries' old techniques which result in the distinctive and unique cheeses that we find so compelling. 

While we cannot always choose what will be featured in the 24-hour news cycle, we can unite behind the positive stories of ACS members promoting and supporting American cheese all over North America. This is the main idea behind "American Cheese Week," which will begin taking shape early in the new year. I hope you will join with me in considering how you will participate in this week-long celebration in 2011. It is meant to highlight the best of the cheese community which we all hold dear.

Wishing you happy holidays filled with love and joy, and all the best in 2011.


Christine Hyatt

ACS President

Cheesy Books

cheese conference

ACS members are familiar with books on cheese. But if you're familiar with the world of business books, you've probably found the offerings to be pretty filled with cheese as well. "Life balance" is big business: business gurus, authors, and motivational speakers are all out to help you juggle your work, family, and personal lives. But maybe their message is off-base - maybe happiness and satisfaction can only be found by eschewing balance, figuring out what you're good at and love to do, and doing it with great abandon.

The 1991 book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi offers a different approach to identifying and focusing on the things you love to do. To be in a "flow state" is to be engaged in self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful actions - often at the exclusion of other actions deemed to give "balance." Similarly, the idea of excluding some things in order to maximize others is the theme of Now, Discover your Strengths and the subsequent StrengthFinders 2.0. Based on Gallup research on millions of people, the StrengthsFinder online evaluation helps you identify your top five natural "strengths." The premise is that you can be great in areas where you have natural strengths, but you'll never be the best at things that don't come naturally.

While quite different, the two books make a great end-of-year reading your strengths and focus on them to achieve a state of flow. The result - greater satisfaction and success in all you do.


Nora Weiser

Executive Director


New ACS Educational Offerings on Food Safety

As you read in the November issue of CheeseBytes, one of ACS's key areas of focus for 2011 is education. A committed group of technical specialists and educators is hard at work developing compelling and relevant content for on-line educational offerings and a virtual 'Winter Workshop' for cheesemakers. These educational programs are focused on food safety issues and respond to the needs expressed by cheesemakers in our recent survey. Stay tuned to learn more details in the January issue of CheeseBytes.

Time to Reflect
News from the ACS Judging & Competition Committee

Now is the time to reflect on the cheeses you've been making and selling in 2010, because these are the cheeses that will qualify for entry in ACS's 27th Annual Judging & Competition next summer. The Judging & Competition rules for 2011 require that each cheese entered must have been available for sale to the general public on or before January 1, 2011.

The Judging & Competition was created to celebrate American cheeses: cheese made in the Americas, in a licensed facility, from milk produced in the Americas in a dairy which meets the standards of its jurisdiction. And the cheese must be sold legally in a public place and available to the general public for a substantial period of time.

The Judging & Competition is not intended to be an arena for the launch or experimental test-marketing of new creations, or one-time cheeses made-for-competition. If it's a cheesemaker's practice to offer a seasonal cheese, we understand that it is not available year-round, but it still needs to have been sold to the general public on or prior to January 1, 2011.

What does "available for sale to the general public" mean? If the cheese is available somewhere at retail - at a store, via mail order, or online - for consumers to purchase, that's ok. It may be a cheese that can be purchased at a small retail shop or stand connected to the dairy or creamery, at a local farmers' market, or via mail order. We don't specify the scope of sale, production, or distribution.

For example, the following cheeses do not meet the competition requirement:
  • A cheese that can be purchased only by a restaurant, because it's available only to restaurant guests.
  • A cheese sold only at a non-public or trade-only market or event.
  • A cheese sold at a venue at which an admission fee is charged.
The Judging & Competition Committee relies on cheesemakers to ensure their entries meet the sale date, and all other entry criteria. If you're not certain that a cheese you wish to enter meets these criteria, please do not hesitate to contact David Grotenstein, chair of the Judging & Competition Committee.

A happy, healthy New Year to all - and thank you for the glorious cheese.


Karen Silverston

Member, Judging & Competition Committee
2010 Cheesemaker Survey Results

In November, ACS conducted a survey to collect key industry data from cheesemakers, with a focus on FDA and regulatory issues. The survey was designed to ensure that ACS is providing its members with the most valuable and up-to-date information and resources year-round, and to gather hard data on inspection trends.

130 cheesemakers responded to the survey. Here is a brief analysis of major trends in the survey data:
  • Cheesemaker inspections increased dramatically this year: Less than 10% of respondents were inspected in any year between 2003 and 2009. In contrast, three-quarters were inspected at some point in 2010. 
  • Inspections begin early, and are most often unannounced: More than 80% of inspections reported by respondents were unannounced, and the majority took place between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM. 
  • Listeria is a major focus for inspectors: the most common test respondents say was performed during inspections was for Listeria. Tests for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Streptococcus, Staph. aureus, and Staph. enteroterin were reported far less frequently.
  • No space escapes scrutiny: Beyond the obvious inspection spaces such as make rooms and aging rooms, respondents note that inspectors are examining intake and receiving areas, storage areas, brine rooms, milking rooms, barns, kitchens, bathrooms, packaging areas, and retail spaces.
  • Over half of respondents have HACCP plans in place: Over half of cheesemakers who responded to the survey follow a HACCP plan. A similar percentage of respondents aware that ACS offers sample HACCP templates for its members. However, this means that half of respondents still need to create a plan for their facility, and didn't know that ACS offered tools to help them. 
  • Local inspectors and mock audits are a producer's ally: Several respondents commented that building a strong and trusting relationship with their local inspector has allowed them to stay prepared for FDA inspections. Third-party audits and "mock recalls" have also proven invaluable for respondents in advance of FDA inspections.
  • ACS cheesemakers range widely in scale: Annual production reported by survey respondents ranged tremendously, from 50 to 150,000,000 lbs of cheese per year; the median annual production quantity among respondents was 20,000 lbs.
To see more survey data, log onto the ACS website and download complete survey results as a PDF.

Thank you to the 130 cheesemakers who took time from their busy production schedules to provide ACS with valuable information for this survey!

'Tis the Season For America's Best Cheeses

This holiday season, create a unique cheese pairing featuring the three "Best of Show" cheeses from the 2010 ACS Judging & Competition: Uplands Cheese Company's Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery's Bonne Bouche, and Farms for City Kids Foundation's Spring Brook Farms Tarentaise.

To help guide you, we've asked cheese and wine expert Laura Werlin, brewmaster Garrett Oliver, and the team from New York City's Casellula Wine & Cheese Cafe to pair these cheeses with the
perfect wines, beers, and accompaniments. They've taken the guesswork out of building the ultimate pairings at home: simply follow our Holiday Pairing Guide, then sit back, sample, and enjoy! Retailers can also share this guide with holiday shoppers, and expand upon it with their own unique products and ideas.

Winning Cheeses
Photo: Christine Hyatt

Remembering Kathy Obringer
Kathy Lighter
Photo: PNW Cheese Project

It is with great sadness that ACS shares news of the recent passing of Kathy Obringer of Scio, Oregon's Ancient Heritage Dairy. Kathy and her husband Paul started Ancient Heritage Dairy in 2006. As the first sheep milk dairy in Oregon, Kathy and Paul quickly developed a following of devoted cheese lovers around the country. To learn more about Kathy's life as an artist and cheesemaker, read Tami Parr's memorial on the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project website, or watch a video profile produced by ACS Board President Christine Hyatt.


Questions for Dr. Cheese?

In the November issue of CheeseBytes, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Janet Fletcher interviewed CheezSorce's Neville McNaughton about brining cheese. Which topics would you like Janet to explore in future issues of CheeseBytes? Whether you're a cheesemaker with technical questions, or an enthusiast looking to expand your cheese knowledge, send us your questions and we'll seek out the experts to answer them. We'd love to hear from you!

Connect to ACS

Stay connected to ACS no matter where you are! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (#cheesesociety), LinkedIn, or our member networking site, CheeseWire. Get the latest updates from the cheese community, connect with fellow cheesemakers, retailers and enthusiasts, and tell us what's happening in your world.

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