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Cheesemaking is an ancient means of preserving milk. But is cheese made from raw milk inherently riskier than cheese made from pasteurized milk? Heather Paxson, a professor and program head of anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will discuss the cultural history and practical implications of the U.S. food safety regulation of cheese, which since 1949 has been predicated on a binary distinction between pasteurization and its absence. She will also reflect on the role and the challenge of classification — how best to sort a limitless variety of cheese types into meaningful categories — for safety regulators, producers, retailers and consumers alike.

Paxson is the author of The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America and an area editor of The Oxford Companion to Cheese.

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