Food Safety and Hygiene to Increase Cheese Shelf Life

Cheese is one of the most popular foods in the world, and that’s not only because of the availability of the product itself but also due to the deliciousness of cheese. However, as cheese is made from milk it also inherits the property of milk itself, and one of the properties of milk is: easy to get spoiled. That’s why in this article we’re going to discuss a little bit about the food hygiene system when handling cheese. Specifically, we’ll discuss on how to increase the shelf-life of our cheese.

Cheese Spoilage Factors

Cheese is easily spoiled, that’s why we should give it extra care. A lot of factors contribute to cheese spoilage such as temperature, humidity, contamination, etc. In general, the higher temperature, humidity, and contamination will make cheese spoiled.

This is usually a result of poor handling and poor storage practices, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, yeast, etc. These factors in turn will decrease the shelf life of cheese itself. The more bacteria, mold and yeast it has, the less its shelf life will be.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

One of the most important factor to consider when handling cheese is the cleanliness and sanitation. Both are important factors of food safety handling. Under clean environment the bacteria, mold and yeast will cease to breed at their max speed, i.e.: their spread will be minimized.

That’s why we need to do regular cleaning of the storage areas, and of course the equipments. Use proper disinfectants and hot water to do the cleaning to make sure the breeding grounds are disinfected thouroughly. Make sure to use the disinfectants as directed in the packaging to let us clean the cheese storage safely. Improper use of cleaning agents can contaminate our cheese and make it toxic.

Storage Conditions

After the cleanliness, the storage conditions is the next factor to consider. Particularly the temperature and humidity. We should aim the create a storage system with temperature range of 45°F to 55°F (7°C to 13°C) and a humidity level of around 70% to 80%.

Why is this ideal? Because this temperature range can slow down the bacteria growth while not causing the cheese to freeze. We can make it colder to further slow down bacteria growth, however the cheese will be freezed and the taste plus texture will be affected. As for the humidity level, this is also to prevent mold growth while preventing cheese from drying out. Too dry and the cheese will be dry, too moist and molds will grow rapidly.

While this is the recommended value, we can adjust the temperature according to our cheese types. Soft cheese may use higher humidity, but hard cheese can make use of lower humidity.

Another thing to consider is we have to organized our cheese by their types. Since different cheeses need different conditions, then we have to group them based on types and store accordingly.

Handling and Rotation

A lot have to be done in the handling and rotation sections of cheese maintenance. Some of these are:

Use only clean hands and equipment when handling cheese, to prevent the tarnsfer of bacteria and other contaminants. Clean cutting tools is essential to do this. We also need to wrap the cheese properly and store them correctly.

One of the often overlooked factors in the rotation system. Make sure to use FIFO (First In, First Out) mechanism and do it diligently to make sure the cheese in storage is fresh, and the flavors is delicious. Never store different types of cheese together because sometimes the flavor will be transferred from each other.

Inspect for any mold or spoilage, and should we find any spoiled one we should dispose of it properly. Dispose in a bag or container to avoid the mold and bacteria spreading. Lastly, separate our cheese from other foods to prevent unwanted odor being absorbed into our cheese. And, of course keep the temperature stable to prevent condensation and prevent the growth of mold.

The Pest is Our Enemy

Pest is not our best friend in many parts of our life. They aren’t the best friends of cheese either. The same with rodents and insects as well. With that being said, make sure to prevent any pests by using any preventive measures that we can. If it’s not enough, we can use pest control services to complement our efforts in getting rid of them.