The environmental conditions during the production and ripening of cheese make it an excellent substrate for the growth of molds.
Molds are a kind of fungus. Their most interesting characteristic is their ability to adapt to even more extreme pH conditions than bacteria can.
Molds can be both beneficial and detrimental to the shelf life of cheeses.
The most common genera of fungi in cheese are Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Geotrichum, Mucor and the most well-known is Penicillium (P.) Penicillium is the most important genus of fungi found in ripened cheeses.
Each genus of molds listed above contains species that are involved in the ripening of various cheeses, and give them their characteristics in terms of texture, colour, smell and taste. This applies to P. Camemberti and P. Roqueforti, for example.These molds grow on the surface of these varieties of cheeses (Camembert and Roquefort) and everything in these cheeses is edible, except for the label.
“Good” molds grow in these natural mould rind cheeses during their ripening process, in storage, while they are on sale, and even in the home. Nobody expects to buy Roquefort cheese of just one colour, without its blue-green holes and its characteristic aroma…
Camembert cheese is covered all over with a whitish mold, while other cheeses are covered with a greyish ash-like mold. These natural rinds should not be confused with artificial rinds, with a label that stipulates whether they are edible.
But other species in this same genus also visibly spoil the surface of the cheese, and can also lead to discolouration and an unpleasant taste, and in the worst case scenario, release mycotoxins.
The main treatments for removing unwanted fungi in cheese rind in the European Union involve natamycin and sorbates, and there are some differences between them.
Value in the cheese making sector lies in striking a balance between all the types of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, yeasts) that go into cheese, either voluntarily or inevitably, and taking advantage of those that are also useful for removing the negative point of the harmful microorganisms.
And this can only be done by the traditional processing method, but always taking food safety into account, for which the environmental conditions are very important.