Do People Really Eat Cheese Made with Maggots?

In parts of Spain, Italy, and France, some cheeses are intentionally allowed to foster maggots and are then eaten, larvae and all, says Norbert Wabnig, owner of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. “They can’t sell them, per se,” he says. “It would be more something the farmers would do.”

The best known of these varieties, casu marzu, is made in Sardinia, Italy, from sheep’s milk cheese. “The maggots are encouraged to grow, eat their way through the cheese, and [give it] an extremely tangy, creamy texture,” says Max McCalman, dean of curriculum at Artisanal Premium Cheese and coauthor of Cheese: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best. He also says that some aficionados of the Spanish cheese Cabrales like it con gusanos, which means “with worms.” “Con gusanos is considered a delicacy to [them].”

Wabnig says he tried a maggot cheese made from cow’s milk in the northern Italian region of Friuli. “They called it the worm cheese,” he says. “We started eating, and noticed as we looked at the cheese on the table there were these maggots. The crunchiness is what came to me, and the movement in my mouth. I wouldn’t do it again in the near future, but it wasn’t bad-tasting by any means.”

The cheese isn’t likely to appear in the United States anytime soon. “Maggots in cheese are considered to be injurious to health due to the fact that they can pass through the digestive system alive and reside in the intestines,” writes Michael Herndon, press officer at the Food and Drug Administration, in an email. “They can cause intestinal lesions, nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, and bloody diarrhea. Thus, this cheese would be considered to be adulterated.” And because it’s considered adulterated, it’s not legal for sale in the U.S.

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