“Raw” Cheese from the Store is NOT RAW!

by Sarah Raw Milk ActivismComments: 107

raw cheese selectionIn yet another case of labeling tricks and deception where store bought food is concerned, many brands of raw cheese produced in the United States and sold at the healthfood store and specialty shops are anything but.

Organic Valley, the corporate behemoth that has gone to the Dark Side where raw, fresh, organic, healthgiving grassfed milk is concerned is not surprisingly the worst offender of this loophole in the USDA regulations.

According to Federal Law 7 (CFR 58.438):

If the cheese is labeled as pasteurized, the milk shall be pasteurized by subjecting every particle of milk to a minimum temperature of 161 degrees Fahrenheit for not less than 15 [fifteen] seconds or by any other acceptable combination of temperature and time treatment approved by the Administrator.

For FLUID PRODUCTS, “vat pasteurization” is defined as heating at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes; heating at 161 degrees for at least 15 seconds is called “high temperature short time pasteurization” [7 CFR 58.101].

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

It means that any cheese where the milk is heated to a temperature under 161 degrees Fahrenheit or less than 15 seconds could be called “raw” and labeled as such according to this definition!

Organic Valley admits on its website that its raw cheese is “subpasteurized”, but fails to identify just how close subpasteurized is to the real thing. This is typical marketing deception and labeling games by a company which, many months ago, I stopped buying products from.

Subpasteurization still heats the milk to an obscenely high temperature which destroys nutrition and enzymes.    Calling such a product “raw” is deceptive, misleading, if not downright insulting to the sensibilities and intelligence of its customers.

While Organic Valley is no doubt the worst offender of this regulatory loophole, any other cheese sold in stores, produced in the United States and labeled as “raw” is also likely heated to subpasteurization temperatures.   Even “raw” goat cheese would fall under this loophole.

I called the company Tree of Life which also produces “raw” cheese sold in healthfood stores, but my questions about the true rawness of their cheeses were not answered and requests for a return call from someone who could provide me with answers were not returned.

On a positive note, a very small dairy near my metro area which sells raw goat cheese in stores around town was very upfront and forthright with their answers about how the cheese is produced.  This dairy does truly produce raw cheese as the milk is only warmed to 98F which is well within the limits for enzyme and nutrient preservation.

Buy Local from a Trusted Small Farm

The lesson to be learned here is that the only way to be sure that the cheese you buy comes from truly raw milk is to buy from a preferably local, small dairy farm that specializes in cheesemaking and to talk to the cheesemaker yourself. To find a small farm near you, check out the Real Milk website or contact your local Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter Leaders from around the world for their list of locally produced goods.

If you don’t have a local dairy farm near you that makes cheese, contact the Weston A. Price Foundation and order the 2010 Shopping Guide for $3 plus shipping.  This handy little brochure fits in your pocket or purse and lists many small farms across North America where you can mail order truly raw cheese.

And, whatever you do, don’t buy the fake “raw” cheese from Organic Valley!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Many thanks to Pete Kennedy, Esq. of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund for tracking down the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) references for this article.

Comments (107)

  • Joseph R.

    Raw milk proponents! We must remember that it is not temperature which denatures enzymes or kills organisms; it is heat. This means that the temperature COMBINED with the amount of TIME the enzymes and bacteria are exposed to it is what denatures or kills them. The experimentation needed to truly master this knowledge must be very thorough. Flash high temperatures for several seconds do not instantly kill or denature necessarily. The enzymes and bacteria have their own temperature which meets the incoming temperature and will either slowly or quickly burn up depending on the GAP between the temperatures. A true science would tell us how much HEAT a certain entity can withstand before it is destroyed.

    July 4th, 2016 12:27 pm Reply
    • Alexandra

      Finally, someone who’s making sense. Out of all these remarks, I don’t see one that mentions the shelf life of a truly raw cheese and that it in fact tastes as delicious as a top sharp aged cheddar or top quality goat cheese which has been sub-pasteurized or flash pasteurized to retain its beneficial nutrients.
      While I’m all for health and raw when it can be obtained and retained in a safe condition to consume, if the truly raw nature of the product causes it to immediately spoil and have mold spores, will you just discard it and blame yourself for not consuming it quickly enough or will you contact the company or store and blame them that your cheese has spoiled right away? I choose foods for both health and taste. If the food doesn’t taste great or taste how I’m expecting it to taste or better, that will be a problem. I imagine that for the average consumer who is purchasing a product, if it spoils quickly or the taste is inferior, they will blame the company or store and expect a refund or replacement product. This would produce a conflict if the company seeks to stand by its customer and customer service, offering a superior product and yet making a profit so that the company can sustain itself.
      The aging process of 6 months with the flash sub-pasteurization of OV seems like a happy medium which allows the cheese to remain fresh for a reasonable period of time to allow for reasonable turnover. If the company or the consumer must discard cheese because it hasn’t been consumed and spoils too quickly, then there seems an inherent responsibility to do what’s needed so that the food doesn’t spoil before its consumed. I personally don’t consume food because it’s about to spoil, I consume food because I’m hungry. This means I want my foods to be fresh when purchased and have a reasonable shelf life so that they don’t spoil before they’re consumed.
      I’m health-conscious, but I’m not a fanatic. I go out to eat and I prepare my own foods. I believe that to fully enjoy life there should be balance.

      July 23rd, 2016 8:25 am Reply
      • Sarah

        A happy medium? Why do they out and out LIE then calling it raw? Fooling the consumer is apparently job #1.

        July 23rd, 2016 10:08 am Reply
  • Matt Fox

    Why are people on here saying that they have to settle for subpar cheese? Why do people need to eat cheese? I understand its delicious and necasary for many dishes but lots of people go years without cheese. No one needs cheese.

    February 5th, 2015 4:44 pm Reply
    • Mayor McCheese

      What the hell did sweet, creamy, delicious cheese do to you? You sir are out of line. No cheese? Why not no air, water, or freedom either.

      July 14th, 2016 7:50 pm Reply
  • pietas

    if we make pizza with raw cheese does that defeat the purpose of having it raw? I would guess it would because then we’d be heating it way past 161 degrees.

    January 2nd, 2015 11:17 am Reply
  • Esmée La Fleur

    I have been calling all of the companies that sell goat or sheep milk cheese that is labeled as “raw” and I have not yet found a single company that makes truly raw cheese. All of them heat their milk to between 133 and 158 prior to adding the bacterial culture. The only truly raw cow’s milk cheese I know of is the one made by Organic Pastures out of Fresno, which I plan to order and try. But I really want a truly raw cheese made from either goat’s or sheep’s milk. If anyone has any resources to offer, I would be most appreciative. Great article and discussion!

    November 26th, 2014 12:18 pm Reply
    • Randall Finn

      drakefamilyfarms.com in Ontario California sells a raw goats milk feta cheese.
      vermontshepherd.com in Putney Vermont sell a raw sheep’s milk cheese called “Verano” that is not heated above 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
      bonnieview.org in Craftsbury Vermont sells 4 kinds of raw sheep’s milk cheese not heated above 101 degrees Fahrenheit. All 4 are not always available, but their Coomersdale is.
      And remember that all true Roquefort sheep’s milk cheese in not heated above 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

      February 28th, 2016 12:02 am Reply
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  • Linda Baker

    so, I have been buying from Bunker Hill for years for our coop….wow…tell me if you read this the way I do…I’m not 100% sure what they mean by gentle. http://www.localcrop.com/ordereze/1009/Page.aspx

    February 4th, 2014 4:13 pm Reply
    • Randall Finn

      I emailed Bunker Hill in Millersburg Ohio to ask what temperature they heat their “raw” milk Heini’s cheese to and got a reply of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

      February 28th, 2016 12:06 am Reply
      • Sarah

        145F is low temp pasteurization … definitely NOT raw!

        February 28th, 2016 9:24 pm Reply
  • Dan

    I tried contacting Tree of Life years ago and they never returned my call. They were hard to find in the first place, as if they don’t want anyone to find them.

    You just plain out cannot trust a big company. I know some people will want to give me examples of reputable big companies. While some might be upfront now, I believe they all will eventually cut and cheat where they can. The big companies serve the masses. The masses don’t mind eating crap.

    Regarding AMISH FARMERS: Just b/c it comes from an Amish farm doesn’t mean that you can’t trust that every ingredient is natural or w/o chemicals. For instance, one Amish farmer I from which I used to order cheese told me they use animal rennet from DuPont. Yes, they sell rennet apparently. Anyway, you can’t be 100% all the time, but always question.

    January 24th, 2014 4:26 pm Reply
  • Angel

    I have been fooled.. thank you so much for this wonderful info! Support small local farmers! :)


    December 5th, 2013 2:57 am Reply
  • Boholistic Mom

    Sarah, since you wrote this article Organic Valley no longer uses the wording “sub-pasteurized” on their website regarding the raw sharp cheddar. Maybe a new post on store bought raw cheeses would be a good idea. I’m very confused by the article and unsure of the proof that these cheeses are definitely not raw. Thanks for considering!

    October 5th, 2013 7:25 am Reply
    • Ali

      I just checked the OV website and while the OV link included in this blog post no longer includes the ‘subpasteuruized’ label, they do offer some FAQ links that explain the raw/pasteurization process of the cheese… the site now states that the milk is heated to 158F… so clearly well above the ‘raw’ standard.

      “The Grassmilkâ„¢ used to make Organic Valley Grassmilkâ„¢ Raw Cheddar is non-pasteurized. This means the Grassmilkâ„¢ is heated to a lower temperature (158 degrees) than the temperature required for full pasteurization (minimum of 161 degrees). The milk is heated to kill bacteria that cause spoilage…(*Please note: non-pasteurized milk does not equal raw milk, but we must label our non-pasteurized cheeses as raw due to legal requirements.)”

      It’s too bad OV add this sub pasteurization info to the label so it’s consumers can be informed…


      October 25th, 2013 3:33 pm Reply
      • Amy

        Not sure if this info off the site is the same as what is pasted above. It is now March 2014. Temp is NOT 141 degrees, but 158 degrees (higher) and the legal red tape makes them call it “raw” if heated under the 161 degrees. I agree they should include this info on the package – exactly as worded below!

        “(*Please note: non-pasteurized milk does not equal raw milk, but we must label our non-pasteurized cheeses as raw due to legal requirements.)”

        The Grassmilk™ used to make Organic Valley Grassmilk™ Raw Cheddar is non-pasteurized. This means the Grassmilk™ is heated to a lower temperature (158 degrees) than the temperature required for full pasteurization (minimum of 161 degrees). The milk is heated to kill bacteria that cause spoilage.

        Organic Valley also uses its non-pasteurized organic milk (not the Grassmilk™ specifically) to produce it’s other raw cheeses (Raw Mild Cheddar, Raw Sharp Cheddar & Wisconsin, Jack Style Raw Cheese).

        This difference in pasteurization method used can also be found on the back label of all our raw cheeses. (*Please note: non-pasteurized milk does not equal raw milk, but we must label our non-pasteurized cheeses as raw due to legal requirements.)

        March 18th, 2014 7:01 pm Reply
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  • SteveandPaula Runyan via Facebook

    Charlotte, most cheeses must be heated in the making process. This post is very misleading, made by someone who has no idea how to make cheese.

    June 21st, 2013 7:31 pm Reply
    • Christine

      Yes cheese needs to be heated, but NOT to temps upwards of 150F. My raw cheddar cheese has never been heated above 105F.

      June 21st, 2013 9:57 pm Reply
  • Sharon A. Cohen via Facebook

    And Organic Valley still uses carrageenan in its (organic) products.

    June 21st, 2013 6:23 pm Reply
  • Liz

    Actually, I make cheese, and both cheddar and jack only need to be heated to 100 degrees.

    June 21st, 2013 1:02 pm Reply
  • Claudia Salanta via Facebook

    Kerry gold is good as for taste. Pasteurized but made with milk from grass fed cows.

    June 21st, 2013 12:40 pm Reply
  • Vicky Erb via Facebook

    Sarah – is there a link on your site that lists resources for local co-ops or farms?

    June 21st, 2013 12:36 pm Reply
  • Sarah Smith

    You make Organic Valley out to be a terrible corporation, which is just blatantly false. My husband and I are farmer producers/owners of the Cooperative (C.R.O.P.P.). Of all the organic dairy companies out there OV is entirely different. Profits are turned around to farmers NOT corporate executives like at Horizon or other organic dairy companies. Plus, Organic Valley holds their farmers to higher standards than other dairy companies, which leads to better milk and higher quality end products like cheese and butter. That is why it tastes better! If you want to complain that Organic Valley misuses marketing “raw” fine, but don’t make our cooperative out to be something it isn’t. This Coop is saving SMALL family farms all over the country while other farms selling to other companies can’t make a go of it. Additionally, don’t just assume that your small farm is marketing correctly! Where we live our state requires dairy producers to call heated treated milk products raw, and that is the law! You wouldn’t consider those farmers market cheese sellers products “raw” either, but that is how they are required to label it. There are plenty of horrible corporations out there and it would be a much better use of your energy demeaning and degrading those who actually deserve it.

    June 21st, 2013 12:16 pm Reply
  • Roxanne Rieske via Facebook

    Obviously someone doesn’t know a whole lot about cheese making. Organic Valley’s “Raw Milk” cheeses are their chedder and Jack cheeses…two cheeses where the milk has to be heated to 150 to get the correct curd for these cheeses. This is stated on the packaging. It is still raw milk cheese because they do not use pre-pasteurized milk to start with. The FDA requires all dairy products that have not been pasteurized to 160 degrees for 30 seconds to be labeled as raw and they must be aged for 60 days. They are still raw milk cheeses, and good quality products.

    June 21st, 2013 11:47 am Reply
    • Christine

      This isn’t true at all. I have been buying various raw cheddar cheeses for years that are never heated above 105F.

      June 21st, 2013 7:12 pm Reply
  • Adrianne Lentine via Facebook

    Is Kerry gold cheese a good option??

    June 21st, 2013 11:39 am Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    If that’s your only option, then yes eat the cheese :) Poor quaity cheese is better than no cheese at all.

    June 21st, 2013 11:19 am Reply
  • Denver Tina via Facebook

    My family and I don’t really like the taste of truly raw cheese plus it’s hard to get. So we just eat Kerrygold cheese that I get in bulk at Costco. :/

    June 21st, 2013 11:12 am Reply
  • Chris Burrows via Facebook

    Sarah, are you stating that any of the items here are false and therefore this cheese is no better an option than the other garbage in the store? http://organicvalley.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/organicvalley.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=104

    For some of us who follow WAPF guidelines about as much as possible this is hard news to swallow. We’ve locally sourced just about everything but the cheese option just isn’t available for us outside of the Organic Valley options. Should we then skip cheese entirely? I’d really like to know what you would recommend in such a case.

    June 21st, 2013 10:52 am Reply
    • Charlene

      I think what OV is saying is that the milk is heated to a temperature that kills everything. But the problem is most people who buy raw milk cheese are buying it to get the beneficial enzymes and bacteria in the milk. I know that to make raw milk cheese you have to heat the milk to about 90 degrees. That temperature does not kill the enzymes and bacteria. Obviously, the labeling is misleading.
      I was very surprised to find that the raw milk cheese from Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont is heated to 152 degrees, so there really is nothing beneficial about eating it.
      I wish I had know this before spending 7-8 dollars a lb. the last 2 years.

      June 21st, 2013 12:40 pm Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    Better to buy pasteurized cheese from a small farm, than fake raw cheese from a big operation like Organic Valley.

    June 21st, 2013 10:44 am Reply
  • Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook

    You don’t want to do that as the subquality milk is what is used by these big commercial operations to make this fake raw cheese.

    June 21st, 2013 10:43 am Reply
  • Sharon Andrews via Facebook

    When you live in an area where raw milk is illegal to purchase for human consumption, you do what you can to get as close to the real thing as possible. Low Vat pasteurization is as good I as we can get in our state, so it is what we have to live with. I do not have the money to make a special trip out of state 3-4 times a month to get real raw milk and raw cheeses. Articles like these are very annoying, especially, when we can’t get the real thing.

    June 21st, 2013 10:40 am Reply
  • Jenn Wolf via Facebook

    Used to get all our cheese from our milk source. Unfortunately we moved. Now, happily, we’re moving back. :) YAY! I’ve just been eating what I can find on cheese, and being glad I can get grassfed beef, pork, goat, lamb, milk, and free range eggs and chickens.

    June 21st, 2013 10:38 am Reply
  • Lou Cattano via Facebook

    Organic valley is far from a good company.

    June 21st, 2013 10:34 am Reply
  • Rae

    I don’t know if it is “truly raw” or not, but you can get Rumiano raw cheese on the Green Polkadot Box for a great price…

    June 21st, 2013 10:31 am Reply
  • Laura Joanna Myers via Facebook

    It doesn’t say the cheese is raw on the Organic Valley cheeses. It says they are “raw milk” cheeses, i.e. made from raw milk. Some types of cheese require heat to curd, so it would be impossible for the finished product to be raw. Even my small farm states that some of the cheeses aren’t raw for this reason. Organic Valley makes good quality products (their Pasture Butter is my favorite butter). Let’s not vilify good companies without reason. I am not familiar with the othe company you mention.

    June 21st, 2013 10:27 am Reply
  • Garney Barnes via Facebook

    Your article is from September 21, 2010? Haven’t things changed? Whole Foods Market – Las Vegas sells Organic Valley.. What do you have to say Whole Foods Market.. Start by sending the link above asking why would Wholefoods sell Organic Valley.. I just did.. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/customer-service

    June 21st, 2013 10:25 am Reply
  • Chris Burrows via Facebook

    I would rather buy subpasteurized (which heats the milk slowly instead of immediately and at the lower temp) than regular store bought cheese. Sometimes your options are limited and you have to choose the best you can.

    June 21st, 2013 10:24 am Reply
  • Kristen Conner Pardue via Facebook

    Eric Pardue we just bought you organic valley raw cheese. Maybe that was the problem w/ it-it’s not really raw. We’ll stick with our farmer’s cheese

    June 21st, 2013 10:18 am Reply
  • Stephanie Sorensen via Facebook

    I usually only get the cheese from Whole Foods that is labeled under the ingredients “raw cow’s milk,” “raw goat’s milk.” or “unpasteurized cow’s/goat’s milk.”

    June 21st, 2013 10:17 am Reply
  • Charlotte Lee via Facebook

    I just noticed that the packaging label has changed to state that it’s processed below a certain temp. That’s new so I’m disappointed. :/

    June 21st, 2013 10:14 am Reply
  • Jenna Darby Laughter via Facebook

    Nothing is ever as it seems…Sigh.

    June 21st, 2013 10:11 am Reply
  • Charlene

    I was very unhappy to find out raw does not mean raw. I should have know because of the California regulations to allow pastuerized almonds to be labelled raw.
    I just called Grafton Village Cheese company in Vermont and was told their “raw” cheeses are heated to just 154 degrees (under the limit) and were still considered raw. Of course their prices are high for these “raw” cheeses.

    What a scam!

    June 4th, 2013 5:04 pm Reply
    • Marcia Gregg

      Thank you Charlene for clearing this up – I was just about to post a question about Grafton Farms because I have been paying that premium price for their “raw” cheese for awhile. So disappointing. There is clearly a market for products that people like us want to buy – maybe someone should get a “kickstarter” loan to start a national online food distributor (think of Trader Joe’s type presence in the market with that kind of buying clout.) Then all of us across the country could just order and buy our products online and have our groceries “delivered” like the old days.

      June 21st, 2013 11:11 am Reply
  • Beth

    I’m planning on ordering some raw cheese in bulk. Is it ok to freeze it?

    January 21st, 2013 10:26 pm Reply
    • Beth

      It’s fine to freeze. the texture tends to be crumbly after freezing. Sometimes I grate it before freezing.

      February 16th, 2014 2:15 pm Reply
  • Christine

    Here’s the direct quote: “The pasteurization process begins once the cream is separated from the milk. The milk is warmed to just above 80°F for 15 seconds”.

    But they also clearly say their cheese IS pasteurized?

    January 17th, 2013 7:05 pm Reply
    • David Roth

      That’s strange. Maybe it’s a typo and they meant 80 degrees celsius? IMO you should call them to clarify. But anyway if their cheese isn’t certified organic, I’d go with another brand.

      January 18th, 2013 2:27 am Reply
  • Christine

    Hi Sarah,

    I just read on Kerrygold’s website that their grass-fed cheese is heated to “just under 80 degrees fahrenheit for 15 seconds.” Would this be considered raw?

    January 17th, 2013 6:55 pm Reply
  • Vivian

    Thanks David I’m going to look into those cheeses you recomended. Would that be http://www.grassfields.com ?

    December 23rd, 2012 11:36 pm Reply
  • vivian

    Thanks for yet another enlightening post. I’ve been buying Orgainc Valley products. Deceived again!! Yet another boycott in the works for me. I make and produce 90% of my food already, I guess one more thing won’t change too much of my life. So far, I have raw milk available to me, until the govt takes that away too but I do like bought cheese…..

    Curious. Is their subpasteurized “better” for you than the “regular” cheeses or is it just as bad. So much to learn. I’m so grateful for this website and Sarah’s commitment to it.

    December 23rd, 2012 1:37 pm Reply
    • David Roth

      Not trying to answer for Sarah, but IMO it’s just as bad. OV now has on the label, “Heated to 158 F for 15 seconds. That’s only a few degrees below pasteurization. When I first noticed, I gave them a call. They said the heating was done for the flavor profile. Yeah right. I immediately switched to a brand available out here in Cali called “Sierra Nevada Cheese Co.” They confirmed on the phone that their raw cheeses are never heated past 108 F. Tastes better too. I also order farmstead raw cheese online from Grassfields in Michigan. Superb taste, never heated past 104 F, organic and grassfed, and awesome prices.

      December 23rd, 2012 9:47 pm Reply
      • Brittany E

        Glad to hear Sierra Nevada’s raw cheese is good… We order their cheese through Azure Standard and love it! I assumed it was actually raw because it molds quicker than any other “raw” cheddar I’ve had. OV needs to wake up and smell the change coming! If they don’t return to their roots they’re going to be left behind!

        June 21st, 2013 10:35 am Reply
        • Randall Finn

          I sent an email to Sierra Nevada Cheese Co. on Feb 29, 2016 to ask the maximum temperature of their raw milk cheese and got the following reply the next day, March 1, 2016:
          Thank you for contacting Sierra Nevada Cheese. The maximum temperature that our raw products ever end up hitting is 135 degrees Fahrenheit for no longer than 16 seconds. The rest of the time the product never gets heated above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

          March 2nd, 2016 9:57 pm Reply
  • Kathryn K.

    I find it totally funny that so many people believe for whatever reason that cow milk products are good for humans…LOL…I’m sure most humans would not consume human breast milk yet they consume milk from cow teats…folks, WAKE UP!…this is food for the baby calf, it’s not produced with our bodies in mind.

    November 17th, 2012 7:55 pm Reply
    • David Roth

      Lol, how lame Kathryn K. By your logic, humans should stop eating most if not all foods. For what whole foods ARE produced “with our bodies in mind?”

      December 21st, 2012 8:31 pm Reply
    • Joseph R.

      Kathryn, if you do some more research, you find that the bacteria and enzymes in the cow’s milk digest the elements in the milk which the human body considers to be toxic and foreign to it. It is pasteurization which causes the cow proteins to wreak havoc on the human system since the good bacteria and enzymes have been devitalized. You cannot shun healthy farmers who have been drinking raw milk products for millennia.

      July 4th, 2016 12:00 pm Reply
  • Natschultz

    OV’s “raw” cheese is heated to 158 degrees now! In Europe anything above 145 degrees is considered “pasteurized.”

    Also, OV’s eggs come from cows fed “organic” SOY and CORN!!!!!!!!!!
    I commented on their site to switch to soy-free organic chicken feed – almost ALL the big “organic” chicken feed suppliers now have soy-free feed available in bulk (this was impossible to find just one year ago, though. Apparently the feed suppliers must have gotten lots of negative feedback over soy since then).

    My local (Upstate NY; I live on Long Island) cheese is mostly labelled pasteurized. But now I am even questioning the few that are labelled “raw.” If I’m going to cook with it (omelettes), I don’t care, but in NY ALL fresh cheeses MUST be pasteurized, so fresh goat and sheep cheese must be dead by law :(

    Trader Joes – I know that their own brand is made by a reputable cheesemaker in CA. I HIGHLY DOUBT it is TRULY “RAW” though! For the same reasons as OV – shelf-life.

    BTW: In NY non-homogenized milk is ILLEGAL!!! Many Trader Joes carry it, but NOT in NY!!!

    In fact, Natural by Nature in glass bottles cannot be sold in NY either (because it is not homogenized). Hilarious – it comes from NJ – right next door! I have to drive to NJ, PA or CT to get it. Easier to just visit my brother in Vermont and get REAL raw milk from his local CSA dairy farmer! But raw milk butter is illegal to sell in Vermont (they make it for themselves and “close friends”).

    When I got organic food delivered I was getting 3-4 dozen OV eggs every two weeks. We cancelled for the summer, and now just buy TJ’s Organic eggs. None of the local egg farmers around here (very few) are soy-free either :( Of the commercial eggs available, only OV and TJ’s do not make me sick, for some reason.

    If you want TRULY raw cheese, imported from REPUTABLE European cheesemakers is the ONLY way to go if you do not have a trusted local source. But you won’t find anything for less than $25 a pound!

    As for co-ops, they are good and bad. Annoyingly, they have all given in to the demands of Big Brother, so they will NEVER be a source of truly “raw” anything! I still support Cabot Creamery – their aged cheddars are still the best and at a decent price.
    Interestingly, many customers complained about GMO corn in the feed, and last year Cabot responded on their website that they are not certified GMO-free because many farmers supplement with corn in the winter (I have NEVER seen a dairy farm in the NE where the cows were locked up – they all roam the pastures freely year-round. I did read about one CAFO farm in Vermont; but economically, buying grains for cows is inefficient up here where the few remaining dairies are generations-old with plenty of pasture and cheap hay in winter). The funny thing is, I recently bought a pound of Cabot cheddar and the label said GMO-free or something like that, so my guess is that the co-op has decided to give in to the public pressure and require its farmers to go GMO, hormone and antibiotic-free. I don’t see how they could stay in business much longer otherwise.

    Quality of the milk – aside from Artisanal Cheese, no, the milk used to make cheese and yogurt will ALWAYS be the lesser-quality milk that they cannot sell as “milk.” Last year Organic Pastures almost went out of business because they had no buyers for their skim milk left over after making their grass-fed butter. This is why commercial cheese and yogurt is usually made from skim and lowfat milk (read the ingredients) – the whole milk is sold as milk and the cream used to make butter. Artisanal Cheese is made from whole milk direct from the cow / goat / sheep on purpose and that is why it costs $25+ a pound!

    That is why the dairy industry pushed the whole BS “low-fat milk is healthier” propaganda 50 years ago or so – because it made economic sense – convince people to drink low-fat and skim milk, then the dairy keeps the cream to turn into butter and sell for a premium. When people drank only whole milk, there was not much cream left to make butter with (even whole milk has the bulk of the actual cream skimmed off the top); so the dairy industry realized that they could convince people to drink “white water” for health benefits and then create 2 products from the same amount of milk – so now they sell skim milk and butter – 2 separate items to each customer – for almost twice the price and profits!
    Funny – most milk from one company costs the same, whether skim, low-fat or whole. But last year I was in Target and they now carry a lot of Organic milk, (Horizon – UHT BAD, and also local regular pasturized Organic) and the whole milk actually cost 50 cents MORE than the skim and low-fat! It wasn’t bad at all, but TJ’s still tastes the best of all commercial Organic whole milk (not UHT) available. Honestly, I give Target credit on this one – selling fresh Organic milk and half-n-half at SUPER CHEAP prices. The problem is that ALL the Organic (fresh – not Horizon) milk would be sold out almost everytime I got there at night!

    July 24th, 2012 10:27 am Reply
  • megan

    so that explains why organic valley “raw” cheese still made this lactose intol girl sick. Thanks for the info. I wonder when I got sick anyway if I would never be able to eat cheese again. Can’t wait till house sells so we can move to south (where we have wanted to go for more then 5 years) and start our own small family farm. cow and goats, chickens again and get my garden back. hate food at store. taste leaves something to be desired unless I pay $$$

    May 9th, 2012 4:44 pm Reply
  • Robert

    I would like to know if peanuts in the shell are OK to eat.
    Thank You, Robert

    January 26th, 2012 1:37 pm Reply
    • megan

      if organic, otherwise you are most likely getting GMO. peanuts are as big on that as corn is.

      May 9th, 2012 5:07 pm Reply
  • Cindy

    One comment about Organic Valley. I don’t know the history about the company but wasn’t it just started by farmers who wanted to get more money for their milk? It’s not like they all really cared about being organic. It’s about getting more for whatever they produce. If you take a regular farmer who knows nothing about how healthy raw milk is and you have a bunch of those people on the board, well….just saying. Buyer beware

    August 31st, 2011 2:12 pm Reply
    • megan

      my friends part of co-op did it for health. they eat/ drink it raw at home because well they can. so some are part of it for health

      May 9th, 2012 5:06 pm Reply
  • Meagan

    I HAD NO idea…. man, over time, OV’s reputation is REALLY changing in my mind. Thanks!!!

    July 11th, 2011 10:50 am Reply
  • Erica

    I have to be honest, I thrived on OV’s “raw” cheese for nearly 3 months with no other dairy products in my diet since it is hard to obtain raw milk where I live. I had no cavities during that time, and still managed to have hard teeth. I do believe that you can obtain nutrition from pasteurized fermented dairy products since the enzymes become alive during the fermentation process.

    However, I finally found a small dairy farm who sells truly raw cheese, and will never purchase any of OV’s products ever again. I don’t like the idea that they can heat the milk to 155 degrees, and then claim that the cheese is “raw.” I also don’t like that they are so against raw dairy. It seems that we have to do a lot of homework in order to obtain high quality foods since there are so many loop holes in the food system whether it be food from a small farm or a large corporation.

    June 23rd, 2011 1:22 pm Reply
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  • Dem

    Thanks for pointing this out! I just bought some of their cheese, but never again!

    January 11th, 2011 11:14 am Reply
  • Jack C

    I have been buying raw milk cheese for many years as an alternative to raw milk which is not available in Alabama, so I know a lot of sources.

    There is an excellent source of raw milk cheese nearby, Sweet Home Farm in Elberta, Alabama (Baldwin County) which makes a variety of cheeses from milk from their herd of pasture fed year Guernsey cows. They do not ship and it is a seventy mile round trip, so I usually buy at least 10 pounds and get most of it shrink wrapped.

    When I don't feel like driving to Elberta, I order raw milk cheese from advertisers in the WAPF journal.

    I have bought cheese from Next Generation Organic Dairy (Wisconsin) which claimed they raised the temperature of the milk to no more than 102 degrees F. which is the same temperature is comes from the cow. Unfortunately they recently went out of business.

    Farmstead Fresh, Inc, (Pennsylvania) claims on their website to keep the temperature below 103 degrees F. Their prices average about $4.50 for eight ounces and they will ship free if you order over $90 in cheese, so it is quite reasonable. I plan to try their cheese soon.

    I have bought cheese from a number of the farmers in Lancaster County, Pa, most recently from Miller's Organic Farm. The cost of 11 pounds of cheese plus shipping came out to about $8.50 a pound.

    I have previously bought cheese from Dan Allgyer, but his phone has been disconnected since he was raided by the FDA agents, federal marshals and state troopers in April of the year.

    I have given up trying to get raw milk because of the short shelf live and shipping costs, but consider raw milk cheese to be an excellent alternative which has some advantages. Cheese is much higher in vitamin K2 than milk and the troublesome A1 beta casomorphin peptide found in most cow milk is broken down during aging of cheese. Cheese has a longer shelf life and is cheaper to ship than milk.

    I have never bought Organic Valley cheese, but used to buy their butter until they began prohibiting their suppliers from selling raw milk.

    Jack C.

    November 2nd, 2010 3:18 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    If anyone finds out if Trader's Joe's Raw Milk Cheddar really isn't raw, please let me know. Both son and myself were found to be allergic to pasteurized and I've been VERY diligent to avoid it at all costs. Frustrated if what I thought was safe, really wasn't =(

    October 3rd, 2010 12:04 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Emily, there is no justification for calling a cheese "raw" when it is most clearly not raw. Why doesn't OV just put on the label "subpasteurized" so as not to deliberately confuse the consumer?? I understand that OV is a co-op of farms but the headquarters is most definitely organized as a too big for its britches corporation. OV is a company that has lost its way and become a slave to profits and stealth marketing much like Big Food.

    September 25th, 2010 1:07 am Reply
  • Emily

    As an Organic Valley producer, I just need to stop and comment to air out some misconceptions. First OV is owned by farmer owners. We are not a corporation, we are a COOPERATIVE, of small farm families. All decisions made by the cooperative are made by the farmers.

    In response to the raw cheese, the 2 reasons OV "subpasturizes" some of their cheese: 1) some states have strict "raw" cheese definitions and since we farmers are from all over the United States and want a uniform product no matter where you live, we have the same standard everywhere. 2) Organic products do not move off the selves very fast. By sub-pasteurizing the cheese, the shelf life is a little longer and us farmers can sell our products in places that don't have high turn around. This is same reason there is UTH pastured milk. Now that organic dairy is more popular, you are able to find just regular pasteurized milk in most markets. Just ask your store's dairy manager.

    Organic Valley is a wonderful cooperative of family farms like ours. We sell our products regionally and always put us farmers first. I hope that you take some time to talk to an actual OV farmer, before you make an opinion about us. Thank you to those who support our efforts to small, sustainable, family farms.

    September 24th, 2010 6:25 pm Reply
    • jimbo


      I’m sure you’re perfectly nice people just trying to make a living. And we are perfectly nice people who want access to quality food that your cooperative of perfectly nice people is striving to deny us.

      That is why we are uninterested in your over-processed products and wish you would go away so that there would be less lobbying and room for decent food on our grocery shelves.

      January 25th, 2011 4:15 am Reply
      • Randi

        Exactly! We want REAL raw cheese! Quite frankly, I can’t see trusting them about anything if they’re this deceptive about their “raw” cheese. I used to buy 15 blocks of OV ‘raw’ cheese, but no more. To Woodstock Farms I go!

        March 11th, 2011 8:40 am Reply
    • Randi

      So you’re admitting that your “raw” cheese is heated, thus cancelling the “raw” claim. Enough said. I don’t care if you’re the Dali Llama, I don’t want to buy cheese that has been heated. Period.

      March 11th, 2011 8:38 am Reply
    • Liz Jaconelli

      Emily, you won’t find any sympathy from the people who have been foolded by your businesse’s deceptive practice! If you want respect or sympathy, try empathizing with US, admitting that what your business is doing is wrong, and come up with a plan to change this practice and implementing this to humbly regain the trust of your former customers…if possible.

      August 10th, 2011 2:44 pm Reply
    • megan

      I have good friends who are part of the co-op so I wont knock you so rude as some here, but the point does still stand that raw is RAW and should not say otherwise unless it truely is. Please help us all work for change. My friends went thru 5 years of change to their land to make it organic so why not start now and work for raw freedom.

      May 9th, 2012 5:02 pm Reply
  • healy

    Really?!It freaks me out! We're fun of raw milk OMG!err

    September 24th, 2010 9:03 am Reply
  • Pavil The Uber Noob

    We've been getting a variety 'unpasteurized' cheeses from Whole Foods. Some we have really liked, some too stinky. Some European, some domestic. I know that the double cremes have never been raw state side.
    Since 'unpasteurized' doesn't necessarily mean raw, who knows what we are really getting.

    September 22nd, 2010 5:32 pm Reply
  • Michelle H

    I am new (a month or so) to this side of things. I am making one change at a time to my family's diet. We had been drinking ultra-pasturized milk for years and thought it was great for us. We are now drinking raw milk. I regular store bought cheese just as bad for us as the milk? Can you refer me to some info on why raw cheese is important? Thank you!

    September 22nd, 2010 4:51 pm Reply
  • Raine Saunders

    Hi Sarah – this whole issue gets me into such a bunch, I can't even tell you. We stopped buying OV products at least 6 months ago when the whole thing about their company not allowing their farmers to produce and sell raw milk came out. So now I have been buying Woodstock Farms "raw" cheese because there is literally nothing else available locally in my area. The farm where we buy our raw milk does not produce and sell raw cheese, and I can't afford to buy raw cheese from places like USWM or other WAPF approved sources, it's just too much for shipping. I used to buy a package of food once or twice a year from USWM, but since we started our solar business last year, our budget has been TIGHT TIGHT, so we are watching every penny. I'm absolutely certain Woodstock Farms cheese falls under the same category as the OV and it's actually pasteurized, but I don't have any other sources for it…so I'm stuck. I have tried contacting the company and have had no luck. There is nothing about their raw cheeses on their web site either, which should tell you something. But it's good to know this information. Thanks for posting this!

    September 22nd, 2010 1:59 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    I would not buy a single thing from Organic Valley. Ultra-pasteurization, banning raw milk, and now this – they surely have gone over to the other side.

    I thought raw cheese meant "raw". I should have known better, as the government structures its rules to help businesses cheat consumers.

    On the bright side, I think the raw cheese we get from Trader Joe's is actually raw, as it spoils very quickly, showing there is some life in that cheese.

    September 22nd, 2010 6:56 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    We are so limited on raw dairy products here. There is only one place to buy raw milk here and no where to get raw butter, cheese, etc. How depressing. I'm not sure what kind of cheese to buy at the store now. Do you know what kind of national brands of cheese are from grass fed cows, if any?

    September 22nd, 2010 6:00 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    We also stopped buying OV months ago. Any company that would prevent people (like my growing children!) from getting fresh raw milk does not deserve my support. Fresh, nutritious food should be available to everyone. We only have one source for raw milk in our area and I could not imagine what we would do if some company came in and took that away. I have seen such a big improvement in my families health since we starting consuming raw milk 7 months ago.

    September 21st, 2010 10:42 pm Reply
  • josiah

    There is an Amish community called Brazos De Dio near Waco, TX that has EXCELLENT (real) raw cheeses and grass fed beef at reasonable prices. They will even teach you how to make homemade cheese in one of their classes.

    September 21st, 2010 6:52 pm Reply
    • megan

      you are so lucky. I have check amish food here in NY and it is still cook to dead. sad.

      May 9th, 2012 5:11 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Sarah, if your mail order cheese was very crumbly it was probably frozen before you got it. Make sure you ask for cheese that has never been frozen and try another farm that doesn't freeze its cheese.

    Beth, it is my understanding that you can actually heat milk to 118F and still preserve the nutrition and enzymes. Even one degree higher and enzyme death begins. Interestingly, this is the same temperature at which if you stuck your finger in the milk it would burn you!

    September 21st, 2010 4:51 pm Reply
  • Sarah Smith

    That's a good idea! I mail-ordered some raw cheese a few years ago, and it was awfully expensive and very crumbly. But I should look into it again to see what there is available now! Thanks!

    September 21st, 2010 4:29 pm Reply
  • Pavil the Uber Noob

    I had no idea that the 'unpasteurized' label was a pass for cooking milk. Quite sobering. Puts a lot of us back to square one.

    September 21st, 2010 4:21 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Sarah, you wrote that milk warmed to 98F is well within the limits for enzyme and nutrient preservation. Could you remind us of the enzyme-safe temperature range? I've heard Sally Fallon say food enzymes are destroyed at 118F wet heat and 150F dry heat — could you clarify wet vs dry heat? (Does it mean liquid food vs solid food?)
    The temp range would be helpful to have in mind when shopping for raw cheese and talking with farmers and local cheese makers.

    Thanks for another illuminating post!
    – Beth

    September 21st, 2010 4:16 pm Reply
  • Mama G

    What we look for in cheese depends on what we are going to use it for. If I'm going to cook it in a dish I look for cheeses from grassfed (no grain or soy) cows. I have had much luck finding them in a few local health food stores, one even calls me before making their order to see if I will be in to purchase. If I'm going to heat it up anyway there is no reason to pay a premium for raw or try to untangle the labeling loopholes. Now if I'm going to eat it raw or use it to garnish/top a dish then it gets trickier. I have found the WAPF shopping guide, as well as http://www.realmilk.com, very helpful. Still, the pickings can be slim. When my toddler and my upcoming baby get old enough that I can I plan to learn to make my own cheese. Until then I am blessed to have family in great dairy areas that have cheese shipped to me. Much like my menus are decided by what produce is in season, it is also decided by what cheese I can get my hot little hands on.

    Unfortunately companies like OV have grown too big to serve the local, seasonal, as God and nature intended food crowd. I will say that organic versions of conventional products were a first step on my journey to more thoughtful food choices. But for my family, that step is long past.

    September 21st, 2010 4:04 pm Reply
  • Daryl

    I'm so bummed. Their raw cheese was the only OV product that I bought and my kids love it. :o(

    September 21st, 2010 3:30 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Welcome to the Other Side, Gina, where consumers are SAVVY and not fooled by Big Food or Big Pharma propaganda and who know what REAL FOOD and REAL HEALTH is all about.

    Gina, try to find low temp (vat) pasteurized, non homogenized whole milk at your health food store until you can locate a clean local source of whole organic milk from jersey or guernsey cows. If your healthfood store does not carry such a brand, request that they order Natural by Nature whole milk in glass bottles. Good luck on your new adventure!

    September 21st, 2010 3:28 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Wow! I found your site from Kely the Kitchen Kop and I JUST started her site last week…to say I am a little overwhelmed is an understatment but I will continue to work through this so my children can be healthy. Whew!….that felt good to get that out! Ok…question…I am a little concerned about raw milk, I understand what you are saying but I do not know where to buy it yet so what can I buy in the grocery store? I need milk at least to cook with. Thanks! Gina

    September 21st, 2010 3:24 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    I don't know the rules for Canada, but I'll bet they are similar as the USA regs. Organic Valley's website touts its "raw" cheese as "unpasteurized" too and instead talks about "subpasteurization" but fails to identify the temperature (which is 155F from what I have been told).

    September 21st, 2010 3:09 pm Reply
  • Moonstonemama

    Hmmm. I buy L'Ancetre cheese here in Canada and the website specifically says that the milk is not pasteurized, wonder if that is true or not?

    September 21st, 2010 3:07 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Kate, what you want is "unheated" cheese. If it says "unpasteurized" it can still be heated right up to just under pasteurization temps of 161F. The best way to do this is talk to the cheesemaker (farmer) directly. I am not up on the rules for imported raw cheeses, but I remember some years back when the rules for this type of food were tightened considerably.

    September 21st, 2010 3:06 pm Reply
  • Laurel

    I'm a little confused about this…..the quotation above says "If the cheese is labeled as pasteurized……"

    What does that have to do with raw cheese?

    September 21st, 2010 3:01 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Jill, yes – the reason OV uses subpasteurization is to increase shelf life and profits, no doubt about that. Truly raw cheese has shipping and shelf life issues that heated cheese does not. OV is trying to have it both ways – get the business of folks seeking REAL CHEESE from truly raw milk and also get the most $$ from a product with ease of shipping and shelf life. Also, I have been told by a pretty reliable source but have been unable to confirm this so did not include in the blog, that OV uses Grade B milk to makes its "raw" cheese, so it has to heat it because it is garbage milk that can't be used for drinkable milk.

    September 21st, 2010 2:58 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    Ugh. I don't buy ANY Organic Valley products at all, for many reasons…. But I was buying ones at my local Trader Joe's that are labeled raw. If it specifically says "unpasteurized" and/or if it is imported is that safe? That is what I usually buy, though not always. I hope, I hope…my family does not do well on pasteurized dairy, even VAT pasteurized grass-fed….

    September 21st, 2010 2:43 pm Reply
  • Jill

    I assume this explains why the raw cheese from my Amish farmer gets moldy so quickly while the "raw" cheese I buy at stores lasts much longer without getting moldy?

    September 21st, 2010 2:41 pm Reply
    • Osiris

      how quickly does the amish raw cheese mold/age?
      I want to buy amish cheese but I don’t know which one to get, I wish they offered a gift basket flavor tester.

      March 8th, 2013 10:49 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Sarah, why don't you try mail ordering some truly raw cheese from a small farm like the many that are listed in the WAPF Shopping Guide?

    September 21st, 2010 1:37 pm Reply
  • Sarah Smith

    I've known about the deception behind the word "raw" from Organic Valley for a long time. However, our family still eats their cheese for a couple reasons: 1. my husband, who is "lactose intolerant" can eat their cheese with no problems (he can't eat any other store-bought cheese we've tried, although he can eat truly raw cheese), and 2. Organic Valley cheese tastes VERY good. We live in an area where obtaining any raw dairy is a struggle (and raw cow's milk cheese is not even an option), so for us it works to still use the Organic Valley stuff.

    September 21st, 2010 1:15 pm Reply

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