Still, the FDA has held up more than 1,100 pounds of the cheese, worth upwards of $13,000, in a New Jersey warehouse since March. That’s according to Benoit de Vitton, the North American representative for France’s Isigny Ste Mére, which is the main producer of mimolette.
The reason given, according to FDA paperwork read to Shine by de Vitton, was that the inspectors found cheese mites in the rind, which can cause allergies, and which made the product “adulterated,” and consists of a “decomposed substance otherwise unfit for food.”
The cheese’s detention, de Vitton explained, leaves the company with three options: make it FDA compliant, send it back to France, or destroy the product completely. Destroying the cheese would be heartbreaking, he said, but sending it back has been difficult, since doing so requires special documentation from the FDA, which de Vitton says the agency has not provided.
The FDA did not respond to specific questions about the situation, but released the following statement to Shine:
The FDA does not have any information about specific import refusals, but we can tell you that, in general, there is no ban on importing mimolette cheese into the U.S. However, it is important to note that all food products exported to the U.S. must meet U.S. food standards. We do surveillance sampling of imports; when we find a violation of U.S. law, we may take action to refuse the product's entry into the U.S.