The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Is all cheese pasteurised?

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No. Pasteurised or raw milk can be used to make cheese. Raw-milk cheeses can be lightly heated or aged for a minimum of 60 days to protect users from pathogens.

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Cheese can be made using pasteurised or raw milk. Cheese made from raw milk imparts different flavours and texture characteristics to the finished cheese. For some cheese varieties, raw milk is subjected to mild heat (at a lower temperature than for pasteurisation) at the start of the process to destroy micro-organisms that could cause spoilage and to provide better conditions for the cheese cultures. Cheese made from raw milk must be aged for at least 60 days to reduce the possibility that consumers are exposed to disease-causing micro-organisms (pathogens) that may be present in the milk. For some varieties, cheese must be aged for even longer than 60 days.

It has been recommended that all cheese manufacturers should use pasteurised milk. However, this would create restrictions for the international cheese trade cheese, especially for the many traditional cheeses from southern Europe, which are made from raw milk and have protected designations of origin.

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