The Mites Ate the Cheese

The Food and Drug Administration proposed recently to limit the quantity of tiny “mites” that could occupy imported cheese, even though living, crawling mites are a feature desired by aficionados. (“Cheese is absolutely alive!” proclaimed microbiologist Rachel Dutton, who runs Harvard University’s “cheese laboratory.”) In fact, cheese is home to various molds, bacteria and yeasts, which give it flavor, and sellers routinely use blowers to expel excessive critters, but the FDA now wants to limit them to six bugs per square inch. However, according to a May NPR report, lovers of some cheeses (especially the French Mimolette) object, asserting both an indifference to the sight of mites creeping around — and a fear of taste-loss (since the mites burrow into the hunk, aerating it and extending the flavor).