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Bacterial growth and rancidness are the main causes of loss of quality in dairy products. This depends on the properties of every specific product. Hard cheeses with a relatively low moist content are normally more susceptible to the development of mould. Yet products that contain a lot of water, such as cream or soft types of cheese tend to fall victim to fermentation and rancidness.
In temperatures in excess of 7˚C, lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria) cause problems by reducing the pH value in products, thereby making them acid. This process can be enhanced due to packaging atmospheres with an excessively high CO2 content (e.g. cottage or soft curd cheese). Your product does in fact determine the CO2 content!
Preventing the formation of mould by means of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in higher dosages when packaging hard cheeses. Bacterial activity is effectively inhibited. The texture of products is preserved better. Concentrations of 20% already strongly reduce the formation of moulds. Lactic acid bacteria, a natural ingredient of cheese, are hardly affected by the surrounding atmosphere.
Soft cheese types are packed in atmospheres of average CO2 concentrations and a low oxygen content to slow down bacterial growth and rancidness.
Concentrations of up to approx. 60% are used for hard cheeses. For soft cheeses the maximum is often 20 or 40%. This is to prevent packaging from forming a vacuum as a result of the atmospheric underpressure, as CO2 is absorbed in the watery and fatty ingredients of the product.
Grated and cut cheese is also packed in modified atmospheres. Grated cheese is normally packed in an atmosphere of 70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide. This way, manufacturers can prevent packaging from denting.
New opportunities for cultivated dairy products
In the past, cultivated products, such as cottage cheese and yoghurt, were not packed in protective atmospheres. However, the demand for longer shelf lives has changed this. A mixture of N2 and CO2 can prolong the shelf life of cottage cheese for example by one week.
And fresh cream?
Cream and dairy products containing cream can acidify rapidly when exposed to oxygen. Replace the air in packaging by oxygen; this way you can prevent rancidness and the growth of aerobic bacteria.