Depending on the composition and other secondary factors, the cheeses are subject to alteration, under the influence of oxygen, bacteria or light, as appropriate. It is about the deteriorating factors, unique or associated, which make a certainty that the susceptibility to spoilage limits differently the periods of time in which the cheeses can be stored. In this group of dairy products, the shelf life is dependent on multiple elements, including the category, assortment, method of manufacture and / or ingredients used.
The shelf life of these products is based on the packaging-presentation and the hygiene of the manufacturing chain. Impeccable manufacturing and marketing hygiene can make the difference, in extending real shelf life, by providing modern equipment, a proper cold chain (throughout the entire manufacturing / marketing / storage circuit), by using disposable packaging, hermetically sealed.
Different validity, but guaranteed
The establishment of the validity term for each type / assortment of cheeses is made by the producer, on his responsibility, in collaboration with the research units and the specialized laboratories, after previous experiments. Experimental methods are based on reasoning, observation, analogy, analysis and synthesis. The advantages of laboratory results provide accurate and objective data.
The structural analysis follows the construction of the product, respectively its chemical composition, being often completed by the comparative analysis, which hierarchizes the market value through a gradation of quality. For example, an assortment of cheeses, with (apparently) the same organoleptic properties, can be marketed by presenting several terms of validity, due to different quality characteristics.
Legally, the shelf life of cheeses can be extended only by re-examination of products by specialized laboratories. With the extension of the shelf life, the price of these products should be reduced. In the rush to sell products with a shelf life close to the limit, some traders are lowering the selling price, hoping to reduce losses. Thus, we are dealing with seemingly identical foods, presented at different prices, sometimes in the same commercial space or on the same shelf.
There was and still is a confusion, often accepted by stores, between the shelf life of the cheeses and the expiry date of the product warranty. The correct establishment of the validity term for cheeses is made according to the assortment, in normal or severe conditions of exploitation, storage, storage and transport. In establishing the warranty period, experimentally, the finalization always takes into account the lower limit of product validity.
The validity of the cheeses represents the time elapsed from their manufacture, up to the time limit considered to fully protect their prescribed quality properties, in the packaging and storage conditions mentioned in the standard that was the basis for obtaining each product. It is, in fact, the safety of the supplier in legal liability.
And here, the difference between the shelf life is often imposed (like all food products) by the low stability to the action of internal and external factors. Among the foods subjected to spoilage, incorrectly evaluated cheeses present risks to the health of consumers, while causing economic losses.
In order to reduce these effects, we proceed to a more accurate evaluation of the validity period and the warranty deadline, for each product and assortment. The main instability factors are enzymes from raw materials or those introduced during the processing process, in association with microorganisms. It is intervened on useless microorganisms by inhibiting the multiplication process with bacteriostatic means or destroying them by bactericidal means.
Compliant and correctly evaluated deadlines
Avoiding the exposure of consumers’ health to risks of a biological, physical or chemical nature, by establishing the validity of cheeses, takes into account the results of risk analyzes, which must differentiate the aspects related to safety, from those related to quality. The risk analysis procedure includes the identification of risk factors and their evaluation.
A correct assessment will take into account the non-exposure of cheeses, equally, to different categories of risks. The risk assessment is made according to their severity and the probability of their manifestation, on the producer-consumer route. The severity concerns the magnitude of the consequences, and the probability of their manifestation is based on the experience of the persons responsible for establishing the validity periods, on the epidemiological data and on the technical documentation.
Voluntary copying of data issued by units with the same activity profile for the same product range should also be avoided, as the risk factors identified in one unit may be insignificant in another unit. The situations are determined also by the existing differences in the technical endowment or in the preparation procedures.
Inscribed on the label or on the packaging of the cheeses, the date of minimum durability (the date until which they retain their specific characteristics under appropriate storage conditions) is the producer’s certificate in relation to the legislative rules on consumer protection. The manufacturers know that they are legally responsible for the different durations of the validity terms , chosen responsibly depending on the characteristics of the products and the comfort offered to them, up to the buyer:
– Melted Cheddar cheese for sandwich, 6 slices packed in plastic, naturally enriched, has a shelf life set by the manufacturer: 360 days , at a maximum temperature of 8 degrees Celsius;
– Melted cheese with Gordon cream , is a product packed in polyamide membrane, equal to 100g, 125g, and one kilogram, respectively in pans equalized to 125g. Obtained from one or more varieties of cheese, by melting and emulsifying them under the action of heat and melting salts, creamy, spreadable, with a dry matter fat content of 50%. The shelf life set by the manufacturer is 90 days , at a temperature between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius;
– Fresh cow ‘s cheese is one of the most widespread assortments of cheeses in our country, obtained by processing skimmed cow’s milk, a food of great nutritional and dietary value. Packed in polyethylene bags, the product has a shelf life of 10 days , stored at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius (according to HACCP recommendations);