Safety and sanitation of cheese products

Safety and sanitation of cheese products



  • Ensure the facilities are clean, neat, without any trash, and maintained in good condition.
  • They must be designed and constructed so as to allow proper hygiene and industrial practice rules implementation.
  • Facilities must have an adequate supply of hot and cold drinking water.
  • Have proper screens on doors and windows, to prevent access by insects, various animals and birds.
  • Have adequate natural and artificial lighting.
  • Have clean toilets, not directly connected to the food area.
  • Have adequate and proper facilities for hand washing with soap and drying, e.g. disposable paper towels.
  • Have adequate areas to store raw materials, finished products, cleaning products, etc.
  • Have adequate facilities to wash utensils, surfaces that come into contact with food, etc.
  • Have adequate sewage drainage.



  • Walls, floors, and other surfaces not into contact with food must be kept clean and in good condition, and made of brick, stone, metal, wood, or other acceptable materials.
  • Surfaces that come into contact with the cheese, e.g. shelves, must be made of materials that cannot be a substrate for the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. Such materials are marble, stainless steel, or plastic suitable for food
  • For these reasons, wood, plastic materials with holes, or other surfaces that allow the circulation of air between cheese and the contact surface, may be used, provided that all these surfaces that come into contact with the cheese are thoroughly cleaned and regularly disinfected.
  • Elements from many materials may migrate inside the cheese, sometimes at non-acceptable levels, which are dangerous for health. Materials and objects into contact with cheese must therefore meet the suitability requirements for food, pursuant to current legislation.





Milk intended for cheese making must be of very good quality, regarding its sanitation. When milk is delivered to the cheese factory, the following must be taken into account:

  • It might contain dangerous bacteria.
  • It might contain traces of antibiotics from treatments administered to animals, because waiting times were not observed.


To check those risks, the following must be done:

  • The cheesemaker should be getting milk from producers who implement a good system of hygienic management of their herd, especially in terms of mastitis and communicable diseases check.
  • Upon delivery, to always check the temperature of milk, and accept it when it is 4° C or lower.
  • To always do a visual check of the milk, for any visible problems, such as blood or clots.
  • If the milk comes from the farm of the cheesemaker himself, to have it maintained at a temperature of 4° C or lower.
  • If possible, to accept milk that has been milked less than 24 hours in advance.
  • To ensure that the milk is within the limits of the Total Mesophilic Flora, defined by law.
  • To verify that milk has no traces of antibiotics.


The existence of antibiotics in milk results in the suspension of the proliferation of lactic acid bacteria during cheesemaking, which prevents the generation of the required acidity, and the curd remains soft and elastic.




The cheesemaker must know that:

  • Raw milk may contain dangerous bacteria, that can multiply fast if its storage temperature is not proper for a long period of time.
  • Utensils and devices that have not been properly cleaned may also contaminate the milk.


To check those risks, the following must be done:

  • Milk must be stored at a temperature lower than 4°C.
  • The milk must be turned into cheese within 36 hours from milking
  • To daily inspect the milk preservation devices (ice box), for proper operation, cleaning and disinfection.




Prior to its conversion into cheese, milk must undergo heat treatment. The survival or development of food poisoning bacteria or bacteria that can deteriorate cheese can occur if:

  • Proper temperature or proper thermal treatment time is not achieved.
  • The pasteurized milk is mixed with raw milk or if milk is insufficiently heat-treated.


Inspection of these risks:

  • Ensure the correct operation of the thermometers that are used to control the proper pasteurization temperature. Pasteurization requires a temperature of 72° C for 15 seconds or an equivalent combination, e.g. 63° C for 30 minutes in open type pasteurizers.
  • Daily check that the flow reversing valve in closed type pasteurizers works properly, so that the milk that was not heated at the right temperature and duration can return to be properly pasteurized.
  • Check that the heating plates in the high pasteurization pasteurizers do not leak.
  • Check that the milk was properly pasteurized, by testing alkaline phosphatase, which must be negative.
  • Check of the proper maintenance and setting of the equipment used for pasteurization.



Dr. Georgios Samouris

Director of Research


Dr. Ioannis Sakaridis

Commissioned Researcher


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