Mould is one of the main problems that lead to the deterioration of cheese. Antifungal preservatives such as natamycin, weak organic acids (boric or propionic acid) and salts (sorbates and propionates) are therefore used to stop it from appearing.
As well as preservatives, acids and salts, environmental factors can also have a great impact on the growth of fungi. Among other factors, these include temperature, pH and the nutrients availability. The activity of water has also recently been discovered to be a key factor related to the growth of fungi in cheese.
The state of water in cheese varies widely, and its effect varies depending on the kind of cheese and in the ripening process. And while the cheese ripens, a series of complex processes take place involving chemical and biochemical reactions that accumulate compounds with a low molecular weight.
These facts, together with the loss of water and the diffusion of sodium chloride while the cheese is being produced, mean the concentration of levels of ionic and non-ionic ions can fluctuate widely, and this directly affects the deterioration of the cheese.
Consequently, the main objective is to study these ionic and non-ionic ions present in water, which may affect the performance of potassium sorbate and natamycin as preservatives in cheese. In fact, the combined effect of water and the presence of preservatives, acids and salts has been found to enhance fungal inhibition.