Scientific Studies

In this section you will find scientific research related to the production and consumption of traditional cheese. 

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Cheese of Choice Coalition White Paper

This manuscript provides an analysis of data acquired from the FDA's "Domestic and Imported Cheese and Cheese Products Compliance Program." The authors find that of a total of 17,324 cheese samples, pathogens of concern were present 0 to 6.9 percent of the time. Findings suggest that overall incidences of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes decreased over the sampling period concluding that control and regulatory compliance had increased. They note that based on the data, regulatory focus should be given to Mexican-style soft cheese, particularly that which is produced in Mexico and Central America.

Food Protection Trends 2011 [D'Amico and Donnelly]

Microbiological Benefits of Traditional Cheese

The objective of this study was to review the sensory, hygiene, and potential health benefits of traditional cheese. Although there has been much debate about the pro's and con's of raw milk cheese, few scientific studies have objectively explored the risks and benefits of traditional cheese. The review highlights that the diversity of microbiota in traditional cheese, a product of the use of raw-milk, is intrinsic to its exceptional sensory characteristics. Moreover, this study emphasizes that traditional production practices such as the use of wooden equipment and some microbial consortia found in raw-milk cheese have a positive effect on cheese safety.

International Journal of Food Microbiology 2014 [Montel et al.]

Wood Boards Safe for Aging Cheese

This industry white paper explores the benefits and potential hazards associated with aging cheese on wooden boards. It concludes that wood boards have a beneficial effect on cheese ripening and rind formation and that, so long as thorough cleaning procedures are followed, wood boards do not present any danger of contamination by bacterial pathogens.

Dairy Pipeline 2013 [Caudé and Wendorff]

Wood Shelves May Help Inhibit Listeria Growth

This study characterizes the development of L. monocytogenes  on wooden shelves used for cheese ripening. The research demonstrates that the resident microbiological biofilm living on wood shelves displayed anti-Listeria effects under experimental ripening conditions. 

Food Control 2011 [Mariani et al.]

Characteristics of Raw, Lactic Goat Cheese May Inhibit Listeria

This research analyzes the survival of L. monocytogenes during manufacture, ripening and storage of soft lactic cheese made from raw goat milk. The authors find that the pathogen decreased over the stages of ripening and suggest it is inhibited by the combined effect of low pH and antagonistic lactic starters. However, the pathogen did not disappear in its entirety.

International Journal of Food Microbiology 2001 [Morgan et al.]

Wood Shelves Do Not Affect Hygienic Safety of Cheese

This study shows that the use of wooden boards for aging cheese does not affect the hygienic safety of cheese if such shelves are in good repair and are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by heat treatment. It concludes that there is no reason to replace wood employed in cheese ripening processes with other materials. 

European Journal of Wood Products 2010 [Zangerl et al.]

Raw-milk Used in Small-Scale Artisan Cheese Proves Clean

This study evaluated the overall milk quality and prevalence of four target pathogens in raw milk used for small-scale cheesemaking. The authors further examined the specific farm characteristics and practices and their effect on bacterial and somatic cell counts. The authors conclude that "the majority of raw milk produced for small-scale artisan cheesemaking was of high microbioglical quality with no detectable target pathogens despite the repeat sampling of farms." 

Journal of Dairy Science 2010 [D'amico and Donnelly]

Raw-milk Used in Farmstead Cheese is of High Microbiological Quality

This study evaluated the overall milk quality and prevalence of four target pathogens in raw milk used for farmstead cheesemaking. Farmstead cheese is defined as cheese made with milk from the farmer's own herd on the farm where the animals are raised. Raw milk samples were collected from farms making cheese from cow's, goat's, and sheep's milk. The authors conclude that "most raw milk intended for farmstead cheesemaking is of high microbiological quality with a low incidence of pathogens."

Journal of Food Protection 2008 [D'amico, Groves, and Donnelly]

Traditional Wooden Cheesemaking Vats Safe and Effective for Cheesemaking

This study explores the microbiological characteristics of traditional wooden vats used for cheesemaking. Samples were collected from 15 Tinas, the wooden vats prominent in southeast Sicily, in order to: better understand the composition and organization of the vat's biofilm; assess its safety in preventing pathogenic contamination; explore appropriate sanitation techniques; and quanitfy the effectiveness of biofilms as a starter culture. The authors found a complete absence of any pathogens of concern and suggest that can be attributed to low pH and microbial competition. The vats proved to be extraordinarily efficient at innoculating milk without external starter cultures. The authors conclude that Tina vats, and other traditional apparati like them, are safe and highly efficient tools for cheesemaking and that they likely contribute to the biodversity of the Ragusano cheese ecosystem. 

International Journal of Food Microbiology 2009 [Lortal et al.]

Raw-milk Cheese less likely to Harbor Pathogenic Listeria than Pasteurized Cheese

This research explores the incidence of Listeria and L. monocytogenes in European red smear cheese. The authors find, in agreement with other studies, that the pathogens in question are more likely to be present in soft and semi-soft cheese than hard cheeses. Importantly, the researchers also find that of the samples studied Listeria and L. monocytogenes were more frequently found in pasteurized milk cheese than raw-milk cheese. 

International Journal of Food Microbiology 2001 [Rudolf and Scherer]

Traditional Cheesemaking Materials Produce Cheese of High Microbial Quality

This study analyzes microbial biofilms present on wooden vats (gerles) used in the making of traditional PDO Salers cheese. Data derived from samples gathered at ten different cheese producers as well as from two experimental laboratory vats. The authors find that the microbial diversity present on the gerle's surface contributes to milk inoculation and provides high levels of microbial flora. Contrary to health authorities general skepticism regarding traditional materials, including wood, the study concludes that traditional wooden vats are a safe material for use in dairy production. Interestingly, even when target pathogens were intentionally added to the milk, they did not colonize the gerle. 

International Journal of Food Microbiology 2012 [Didienne et al.]

Introduction to Cheese Microbiology

The American Academy of Microbiology just released a fascinating FAQ Microbes Make the Cheese report that is must read for cheese lovers— enthusiast and expert alike. This terrific introduction offers intriguing insights into the history and science of “natural” cheese and cheesemaking. The science of the microbial ecologies at work within artisan cheese isn’t always the most approachable to a lay audience; however, the authors (including several CCC scientific advisors) have rendered a digest that is, appropriately enough given the topic, very easy to digest. Exploring starter cultures, development through maturation, rind composition, organoleptic properties, health factors and more, this concise report is well worth its weight in gouda. 

American Academy of Microbiology 2015 [Fox et al.]

Listeria Risk Decreases in Raw-Milk Cantal Type Cheese with Maturation

This study explores the behavior of L. monocytogenes in raw milk Cantal type cheeses during cheese making, ripening, and storage in different packaging conditions. The authors find that long ripening times for raw-milk Cantal type cheeses lead to a decrease in L. monocytogenes noting that lactic acid and acetic acid participated in the inhibition at the cheese core. Moreover, the authors found that there was a sharp decrease of the bacteria in the cheese core during storage in three different packaging conditions. The study provides data for developing models of L. monocytogenes inactivation and for attributing by food safety authorities the appropriate category for Cantal type cheeses with regard to European regulation.  

Food Control 2015 [Chatelard-Chauvin et al.]

Cheese Crystals Aid in Muscle Recovery

University of Vermont scientists explain that the crystals in aged cheeses are a mix of tyrosine – an amino acid commonly associated with cheese – and leucine. In fact, the form of leucine that forms in “pearls” in aged cheeses is an amino acid directly related to muscle formation; it aids in the synthesis of protein in the body. Muscle builders consume supplemental leucine in powdered form or enhanced milk products to aid in muscle recovery. 

Dairy Science & Technology 2015 [Tansman et al.]

Cheeses from Mexico were historically made using Raw Milk

Researchers from Mexico document the artisanal production of cheese using raw milk. In this introductory study the most common styles produces in Mexico are presented with pictures and information on cheesemaking practices. 

Journal of Dairy Science 2016 [González-Córdova et al.]