Is Camembert Banned in America? (Revealed!)

  • Camembert is banned in America because it is made from unpasteurized milk
  • The cheese could contain harmful bacteria that cause serious illness
  • The ban was imposed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Other raw milk products are also banned, including Brie and Queso Fresco
  • Alternatives to Camembert include Coulommiers and Gorgonzola

What Are the Reasons for the Ban on Camembert in America?

To understand why Camembert is banned in the United States, you need to know how it is processed.

Traditionally, it is made from raw milk that has not been pasteurized.

Let me explain how pasteurization works in case you are not familiar with it. 

Raw milk is heated to a specific temperature that is high enough to kill any harmful bacteria that could be present.

These bacteria include E. ColiListeria, and Salmonella, all of which can cause serious illness.

In particular, they can be harmful to pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and anybody with a weakened immune system.

As such, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided that Camembert posed too high a risk to public safety and banned its sale and importation.  

It’s not just Camembert, other cheeses are banned, too, such as the Mexican Queso Freso and another French favorite, brie. 

Just to confuse matters, the sale of raw milk itself is not illegal in several states! 

It’s possible that you could find Camembert at farmer’s markets that have been made from unpasteurized milk, so you do need to ask if it is not clear from the labeling.

What is the History of Camembert?

Before I move on to why the ban on Camembert is so controversial, I just wanted to give you a quick history of the cheese and how it came to be banned.

Its origins lie in Normandy, France, and legend has it that a woman named Marie Harel was given the recipe by a priest after she gave home shelter during the French Revolution.

Whether or not this story is true, it has been used as a clever promotional tool, leading to a rise in popularity during the late 19th century.

Unfortunately, it came to the attention of the FDA in 1949 when unpasteurized milk was said to be responsible for a typhoid outbreak.

This led to a halt in domestic production of cheese made with raw milk and subsequently a ban on importation.  

Why is the Camembert Ban So Controversial?

Even though the FDA is trusted with ensuring the health and safety of the public in America, many people claim that the ban on Camembert is unnecessary.

Does it take away the freedom of choice if somebody is willing to take the risk?

Does the ban unfairly restrict the availability of certain products and therefore affect the economy?

Plus, we have to bear in mind that France, as the manufacturer of Camembert, has its stringent safety tests.

I have to say that I have no problem eating Camembert, but that’s my personal choice. 

Are There Any Alternatives to Camembert in America?

So, if you enjoy Camembert, are there any other similar cheeses available in the United States that will satisfy your tastebuds?

Of course, the most obvious option would be to seek out Camembert, which is made with pasteurized milk, and many major supermarkets do have their version.

You will have to check the label to ensure it specifically says pasteurized.

However, it may be somewhat lacking in flavor or texture.

One alternative is Coulommiers which is also produced in France and has a similar texture to Camembert, with a soft edible rind. 

As it is made from pasteurized cow’s milk, it can be imported to the United States.

If you don’t mind blue cheese, then Gorgonzola Dolce could be an option and is produced in Italy. 

However, the rind is quite rough and hard and should not be consumed.

How Traditional French Camembert is Made

My Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this article, and as Camembert is famous for its edible rind, you may also wish to find out if you can eat the rind on brie.

Please consult your health provider if you have any concerns.

How do regulations on food safety, like the ban on unpasteurized Camembert, impact your choices and enjoyment of international cuisines?

Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment