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Food Hygiene for Cheesemakers

Cheesemakers must ensure that food hygiene requirements are satisfied throughout all stages of production, processing and distribution. Since there are so many different types of cheeses, each requiring slightly different manufacturing methods, it is wrong to assume that the same food hygiene practices are applicable to all cheese making processes.

Sentient are experts at providing robust food safety management systems based on HACCP principles (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) to the food manufacturing and catering industries. We also have consultants with specific backgrounds and expertise of food hygiene in cheese making.

It is a legal requirement that cheesemakers have a system in place for food hygiene that follows HACCP principles. It is important however that any HACCP documentation developed is relevant to the type of cheese being produced. For example soft cheeses that have a higher water content are more susceptible to hazardous bacteria and therefore require different HACCP systems than hard cheeses. Similarly the process for cheese making varies with the type of milk being used, whether it is cows, goats or sheep’s milk and whether it is pasteurised or raw milk. Food hygiene principles therefore vary with the type of cheese being made.

food hygiene for cheesemakers pic1 The benefits of HACCP for cheesemakers are that it provides a systematic approach to food hygiene that shows management commitment and assists with due diligence defence. The prerequisites for HACCP are things like quality assurance of suppliers, that good general hygiene is in place and that incident and product recall systems are in place. Cheesemakers should also ensure they have good laboratory practice, pest control systems and have developed suitable hygiene training programmes for employees.

Any food safety management system for cheesemakers would also ensure that a suitable temperature and humidity control environment is maintained to ensure foodstuffs are stored and processed at appropriate temperatures. Such temperatures should be monitored and recorded.

Sentient help cheesemakers develop a food safety management system based on HACCP principles. This would identify all hazards that should be prevented or reduced to acceptable levels and determine the critical control points (CCP’s) where it is vital to eliminate that hazard.

We would help the cheesemaker to establish the limits at control points which determine what is acceptable or not and what monitoring processes must be employed at these CCP’s to ensure that any hazards remain eliminated or at tolerable levels. It is then important that corrective actions are identified should a critical control point be jeopardised.

Many critical control points will vary on the type of cheese being produced, whether it is a hard cheese, mature cheese, a semi hard Dutch style cheese or mould ripened cheese. Typically these may include;

Pasteurisation - milk should be heat treated at a minimum temperature of 65ºC for 30 minutes (batch pasteurisation) or 71.7ºC for 15 seconds (HTST pasteurisation) to kill of pathogenic bacteria. This should then be verified by a simple phosphatase (ALP) test.

Acidity - this should develop during the manufacturing process and will vary with the type of cheese being produced. All cheeses require a certain level acidity to help microbiological safety. Typically acidity would be measured with a pH meter or by titration and should be pH5 or less 24hours after salting for most types of hard or soft cheese.

Salting- an even distribution of salt in the curd is a critical factor for the effective control of bacteria and to ensure the cheese matures correctly.

Cheese made from unpasteurised or "raw" milk is becoming increasingly popular since some argue they have their own unique flavour and characteristics. Raw milk however contains all the bacteria and microflora from the original herd of cows which means a different HACCP system and controls need to be developed. 

The manufacturing process varies for each type of cheese as do the hazards and control points. Sentient’s understanding of the cheese making process ensures that any hygiene systems developed for our clients are tailored specifically for the cheese being made.

Our food hygiene consultants help cheesemakers identify hazards in their business that could harm consumer health or wellbeing. The HACCP advice we provide helps cheesemakers decide which type of hazard analysis is best for their business. We identify the critical control points and help cheesemakers do the hazard analysis and review it where necessary. We also show cheese makers how to set up, monitor and record their critical control points. Some clients also use us to complete independent food safety audits and provide HACCP training to their staff.

Sentient provide a complete food hygiene service for cheesemakers.

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Call us on 03456 446 006 


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