Understanding spoilage and quality issues may improve American artisan cheesemaking industry

Top concerns of artisan cheesemakers are examined in new research in the
Journal of Dairy Science®

Philadelphia, April 20, 2021 – American artisan cheese has become increasingly popular over the past few decades. Understanding spoilage concerns and the financial consequences of defects can improve quality, profitability, and sustainability in the American artisan cheesemaking industry. In an article appearing in the Journal of Dairy Science®, scientists from Tufts University took the pulse of artisan cheese producers in the United States through an industry survey.

The authors of this study provide a snapshot of the artisanal cheesemaking community indicating that many (71 percent) are concerned about undesirable surface molds and incorrect or unexpected colors or pigments on rinds (54 percent). Of the 61 cheesemakers surveyed, 18 percent were very concerned about quality and spoilage problems, 39 percent said that their quality standards are not met annually, and 33 percent said their quality standards are not met monthly.

“The growing US cheesemaking industry will require additional resources moving forward that address not only safety but also quality and spoilage concerns,” said first author Megan Biango-Daniels, PhD, Biology Department, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA. “One interesting observation from our data is that cheesemakers, as a group, are unsure about how widespread quality issues are but strongly agree that additional resources to help address quality issues would benefit them personally.”

Caption: Examples of rind defects include (A) unwanted surface molds such as blue mold on Camembert cheese (photograph by B.E. Wolfe), (B) unwanted rind colors, such as purple rind defect (Kamelamela et al., 2018), (C) rind separation from paste in mold ripened cheese (Choi et al., 2016), and (D) unwanted divots or dimples in the rind (photograph by Biango-Daniels).

Although 62 percent of survey respondents reported that only between zero and five percent of their product was lost or made less valuable due to quality issues annually, seven percent of cheesemakers had losses of over 20 percent of their product. Nearly all respondents agreed that better quality of their products would lessen waste, boost profits, and enhance production. In answer to open-ended questions, those surveyed said that they would like to have access to additional online resources addressing quality topics and to digital forums to collaborate with experts and peers when problems emerge.

Dr. Biango-Daniels added, “Regardless of what these future resources will look like, it’s important that cheesemakers budget for professional development, organizational membership, and continuing education (training online or in-person) in their business plans so that they can afford to invest in the resources that enable production of safe, high-quality cheese.”

The study suggests that addressing the concerns of cheesemakers will remain challenging because of resource and tool development barriers, the relatively few scientists who specialize in these subjects, and the limited funding sources available for this type of research.

Notes for editors
The article is “American artisan cheese quality and spoilage: A survey of cheesemakers’ concerns and needs,” by Megan N. Biango-Daniels and Benjamin E. Wolfe (https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2020-19345). It appears in the Journal of Dairy Science, volume 104, issue 5 (May 2021), published by FASS Inc. and Elsevier.

It is openly available at www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(21)00532-4/fulltext.

Full text of the article is also available to credentialed journalists upon request. Contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or jdsmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. Journalists wishing to interview the authors should contact the corresponding author, Megan N. Biango-Daniels, Tufts University, at Megan.Biango_Daniels@Tufts.edu.

About the Journal of Dairy Science
The Journal of Dairy Science® (JDS), an official journal of the American Dairy Science Association®, is co-published by Elsevier and FASS Inc. for the American Dairy Science Association. It is the leading general dairy research journal in the world. JDS readers represent education, industry, and government agencies in more than 70 countries, with interests in biochemistry, breeding, economics, engineering, environment, food science, genetics, microbiology, nutrition, pathology, physiology, processing, public health, quality assurance, and sanitation. JDS has a 2019 Journal Impact Factor of 3.333 and 5-year Journal Impact Factor of 3.432 according to Journal Citation Reports (Source: Clarivate 2020). www.journalofdairyscience.org

About the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA)
The American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) is an international organization of educators, scientists, and industry representatives who are committed to advancing the dairy industry and keenly aware of the vital role the dairy sciences play in fulfilling the economic, nutritive, and health requirements of the world's population. It provides leadership in scientific and technical support to sustain and grow the global dairy industry through generation, dissemination, and exchange of information and services. Together, ADSA members have discovered new methods and technologies that have revolutionized the dairy industry. www.adsa.org

About FASS Inc.
Since 1998, FASS has provided shared management services to not-for-profit scientific organizations. With combined membership rosters of more than 10,000 professionals in animal agriculture and other sciences, FASS offers clients services in accounting, membership management, convention and meeting planning, information technology, and scientific publication support. The FASS publications department provides journal management, peer-review support, copyediting, and composition for this journal; the staff includes five BELS-certified (www.bels.org) technical editors and experienced composition staff. www.fass.org

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