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Characterization of Whey Cheese Packaged under Vacuum

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Vacuum packaging was assayed at 4°C and was tested in comparison to unpackaged counterparts, in both microbiological and physicochemical terms, in studies pertaining to the preservation of Requeijão, a traditional Portuguese whey cheese. Bacteria were absent (i.e., <10 CFU/g) in whey cheeses on the day of manufacture as a result of thermal processing. After storage, both unpackaged and packaged cheeses exhibited high viable counts of Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Enterobacteriaceae, and lactic acid bacteria (especially lactococci). Yeasts, staphylococci, enterococci, and spore-forming clostridia were severely inhibited by the package vacuum combined with the increasing acidification developed therein. Whey cheeses packaged under vacuum underwent substantial acidification, slight depletion of lactose, and no significant variation in moisture content or texture; conversely, unpackaged whey cheeses exhibited substantial loss of water and a concomitant increase in rigidity. Vacuum packaging strongly inhibited lipolysis (even if viable counts of some microbial groups were high); saturated fatty acids (mainly C16:0 and C14:0) accounted for ca. 73% of the total free–fatty acid content, whereas the most concentrated unsaturated fatty acids were C18:1 and C18:2 (ca. 14% each). The conclusions generated in our study are, in general, useful for a wide range of whey cheeses worldwide: i.e., Requéson (Spain), Ricotta (Italy), Broccio (France), and Anthotyro (Greece). In addition, our conclusions are particularly helpful in terms of improving the safety of Requeijão, a widely acclaimed dairy specialty.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Rua Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida, P-4200-072 Porto, Portugal

Publication date: February 1, 2000

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