Cheese is a food derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavors, textures, and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. The word cheese comes from Latin caseus, from which the modern word casein is also derived. It comprises proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. During production, the milk is usually acidified, and adding the enzyme rennet from non-animal source, causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into final form.
The product may contain starter cultures of harmless lactic acid and/or flavor producing bacteria and cultures of other harmless microorganisms, safe and suitable enzymes and sodium chloride. It may be in the form of blocks, slices, cut, shredded or grated cheese.
Types of cheese
Cheese may be ripened or unripened soft or semi-hard, hard and extra hard product, which may be coated with food grade waxes or polyfilm, and in which the whey protein/casein ratio does not exceed that of milk.
- Ripened Cheese is cheese which is not ready for consumption shortly after manufacture but which must be held for some time at such temperature and under such other conditions as will result in necessary biochemical and physical changes characterizing the cheese in question. Examples of ripened cheese include Limburger, Muenster, Saint Paulin, and Port-Salut.
- Mold Ripened Cheese is a ripened cheese in which the ripening has been accomplished primarily by the development of characteristic mold growth through the interior and/or on the surface of the cheese. Examples of mold ripened cheese areBrie and Camembert.
- Unripened Cheese including fresh cheese is cheese which is ready for consumption shortly after manufacture. Examples of unripened cheese are Gjetost and Mysost.
Cheese manufacturing – Salient points to remember
Cheese is available through the entire spectrum, from hard to soft. Importantly, the hardness or softness of cheese is determined by the ratio of moisture and milk fat (on dry basis). The harder the cheese, the lesser moisture it would contain and vice-versa. The milk fat (on dry basis) may vary between different types of cheese, and the degree of variability is not uniform, unlike the moisture content. The Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011 has prescribed the amount of moisture and milk fat (on dry basis) each type of cheese should contain, and which should be adhered to by all cheese manufacturers. These are indicated in the table below.
|Product||Moisture||Milk fat (on dry basis)|
|Extra hard cheese||Not more than 36%||Not less than 32%|
|Hard pressed cheese||Not more than 39%||Not less than 48%|
|Semi-hard cheese||Not more than 45%||Not less than 40%|
|Semi-soft cheese||Not more than 52%||Not less than 45%|
|Pizza cheese||Not more than 54%||Not less than 35%|
|Mozzarella cheese||Not more than 60%||Not less than 35%|
|Soft cheese||Not more than 80%||Not less than 20%|
Product labeling – What should the FBOs know?
While the above composition of the cheese is important from the manufacturer’s standpoint, the packaging & labelling guidelines as have been defined under FSS (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, have to be completely followed by the food business operators. Following are some of the important points:
- All types of cheese should be coated with food grade waxes/or polyfilm/or wrapping of cloth, and must bear proper label declaration as provided in Regulation 2.4.5 (44) of Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011.
- In the product label, the term “Cheese” encompasses all types of cheese where cheese or mixture of cheeses constitutes an ingredient of another food and provided that the labeling and presentation of such food does not refer to a specific type of cheese.
- Every package of Cheese (hard), surface treated with Natamycin, shall bear the following label, namely, –
|Surface treated with Natamycin|
- Every package of Cheese(s), if coated/packed in food grade waxes polyfilm/wrapping of cloth, shall bear the following label, namely, –
|Remove the outer packing before consumption|
As per FSSAI guidelines, all food substances after manufacture and before packaging shall be regularly analyzed by NABL accredited/FSSAI notified food testing laboratories. When it comes to food testing, cheese is no exception.