By Ramsey Kropp, PhD, Chief Scientist, AquaMost, Inc.
Microbial contamination of food and beverage products is a potentially catastrophic occurrence resulting in foodborne illness or food spoilage. The same nutritive properties that render cheese and dairy products such a valuable food also provide an ideal growth medium for microbes if contamination occurs. Although production and distribution of food is tightly regulated there is little secondary inspection of these products in the U.S., so outbreaks of foodborne illness are typically only detected after consumers become sick. An outbreak can lead to costly product recalls, regulatory fines, negative consumer sentiment, loss of brand value, idling production facilities, and civil or potentially criminal legal proceedings. Microbial contamination also leads to product quality issues and spoilage, resulting in loss of product, decreased shelf life, and unhappy customers.
Image credit: "Twig Farm Cheese," Breville USA © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/