According The Globe and Mail, Quebec is now going to allow the sale of raw-milk cheeses that have been aged for less than 60 days. The US Dept. of Agriculture and its Canadian equivalent have banned such cheeses over health concerns.
Purists, however, have long maintained that requiring pasteurization renders the "bries" and "camemberts" available in North America nearly tasteless. Connoisseurs of soft-ripened cheeses maintain that these cheeses reach their peak aroma and flavor after 21 to 30 days of aging and that pasteurization destroys harmless but essential microbes that give the cheeses a unique, rich flavor.
The rationale for allowing cheeses that are aged for more than 60 days to bypass the pasteurization process is that if there are any harmful pathogens in the cheese, they will reveal themselves during the aging process in visible cultures. The tainted cheese can then be safely discarded. Because cultures of harmful microbes may not show up after only a few days of aging, there is some risk that potentially harmful cheese will be sold to consumers.
In order to alleviate concerns about the safety of the new raw-milk cheeses, Quebec is instituting a new set of strict rules that govern milk production and veterinary inspection of dairy herds.
Quebec has long been the capital of artisanal cheesemaking in Canada. I may have to take a cheese tour of the province in the near future.