Sell This 'Dangerous' Cheese and You Could Be Fined $60K

But in Sardinia, casu marzu is a way of life
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2021 8:00 AM CDT

Spotting maggots in your food is generally a sign that it needs to be tossed, quickly. When it comes to the Sardinian cheese casu marzu, it's a sign that everything is going as planned. At CNN, Agostino Petroni takes a deep dive into what Guinness World Records has called the world's "most dangerous" cheese, a pecorino whose cracks are the place in which cheese flies deposit their eggs. The maggots that emerge start to eat their way through the cheese, and the digestive process ultimately results in a soft cheese; the process takes about three months. To eat it, the firm top is cracked open and, well, brace yourself. "At this point, the grubs inside begin to writhe frantically," writes Petroni. And yes, you then eat it bugs and all, either as-is or spun through a centrifuge so that maggots and cheese become one.

It's technically been illegal to sell for nearly 50 years under Italian laws designed to prevent the consumption of food infected by parasites, but it's also technically a registered traditional product of Sardinia, which makes it locally protected. The Italian government could fine anyone who sells it up to $60,000, but that doesn't seem to occur. Another thing that doesn't seem to occur: deaths by the cheese. Petroni writes that some speculate maggots that manage to make it to the intestines alive could create micro-perforations there, but there apparently have not been any such documented cases. Want to roll the dice because you're curious about the flavor? Here's Petroni's description: "intense with reminders of the Mediterranean pastures and spicy with an aftertaste that stays for hours." (Read the full piece for much more on the cheese.)

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