Mold risk at the cheese counter

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Best-before date for supermarket cheeses: mold at the cheese counter

Cheese from the supermarket is often moldy before the expiration date. This was the result of an investigation by the Bavarian Consumer Center, which now calls for improvements.

Best-before date is not a throw-away date Consumer Minister Ilse Aigner advertises with the statement that the best-before date is not a throw-away date. Expired foods should first be checked whether they are really no longer edible before they are disposed of. Just a few days ago the headline read: UN: Most of the food thrown away worldwide is drawn to the fact that around 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away every year. However, for some foods, the best-before date seems to apply in the opposite direction, such as sliced ​​cheese. It is often no longer edible before the expiry date.

40 cheeses examined According to the “Welt am Sonntag”, the consumer advice center in Bavaria had examined packaged cheese from the trade and found that a large part of the examined products were simply moldy before the expiration date printed on them. For their market study, the consumer advocates had bought 40 different types of cheese in the Munich area and then delivered them to the Central Institute for Nutrition and Food Research in Weihenstephan. There the milk products were spotted daily under laboratory conditions. And although the respective varieties such as Emmentaler or Gouda were actually still stable according to commercial information, the first mold cultures blossomed on them after only a few days.

60 percent of pre-cut cheese affected The types of cheese that had already been pre-cut by the trade and were then offered for sale in self-service counters had apparently proven to be particularly susceptible to mold. From this category, 15 of the 25 cheese samples examined were moldy ahead of time, i.e. 60 percent. Cheese that had already been packaged in a protective atmosphere at the manufacturer, however, held up significantly better. In this category, the researchers detected mold formation in only 20 percent of the samples until the shelf life limit was reached.

Consumer advocates call for improvements The Federal Association of the German Food Trade stated that the best-before date for “cut and arranged goods” in the store was “determined by the specialist staff”. As a rule, the time period is determined on the basis of tests. The problem that has been identified and objected to can arise, for example, when noble mold skips over to other types of cheese when portioned. Marion Breithaupt-Endres, board member of the Bavarian Consumer Center, said: "The best before date for freshly cut cheese has to be reconsidered and realistically improved by the providers."

Complaining instead of eating Although only one case of the found mold was classified as hazardous to health after a DNA analysis, but since such a distinction cannot be made by eye, the consumer advice center generally advises not to eat moldy cheese. Instead, consumers should complain to the retailer about the defective goods. (ad)

Image: Guenter Hamich /

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