Surface treatment of cheese with natamycin
For cheese from our Vorarlberger alps region fortunately unthinkable!
A Foodwatch campaign brought it to light: Various cheese manufacturers apparently use the bark treatment natamycin too carelessly.
Why is this done?
As a preservative for the treatment of cheese rind, natamycin prevents yeast and mold infestation – and relieves the cheese from complex cheese care. This is allowed for hard cheese and semi-hard cheese.
Taking natamycin frequently can lead to resistance to the additive (active substance). That’s why the cheese rind must be cut away with cheese that has been treated with it – and that generously. The additive is detectable up to five millimeters below the surface.
Maybe allowed, but certainly not desired.
Unfortunately, antifungal agent are not prohibited in cheese: natamycin acts as an antibiotic (a penicillin-like additive (E 235) with antibiotic effect) and is used in medicine in the treatment of various fungal infections in humans. Despite the consumption warning of BfR and MRI, the use of natamycin in cheese is allowed.
Natamycin must be declared and the cheese should carry the note “Rind not suitable for consumption!”
The consumer protection organization Foodwatch revealed in 2011 that at least one cheese producer used this product.
What if I buy at the cheese counter?
It becomes difficult with cut cheese from the counter or from the supermarket prepackaged cheese. A demand at the counter can certainly help. However, reliable information can probably only be made by the seller if the corresponding declaration has been made on a cheese wheel that has not yet been cut.
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