The shelf-life of cheeses may triple from the present 2-3 months up to 9 months, with the help of a new concept. The advancement has come about thanks to improvements in packaging techniques which have been developed by a team at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark.
Perhaps most important is the team's claim that the improvement in shelf life does not require more food additives in the cheese itself - instead it has all come from the material used to package the cheese.
Participants in the project, which was named Biopack, are developing a new approach to the use of oxygen scavengers, and other preservatives, as active, protective agents in a new bio-based packaging material. In the first instance, this new active packaging will be targeted at improving the quality and safety of cheese, but the project is also expected to improve the shelf life after opening the package at home, reducing the growth of moulds and development of rancid taste.
"The importance of foods being properly packaged is seldom noticed in everyday life. However, an excellent product can be totally wasted if the packaging of it is not appropriate," a Biopack spokesperson said. "Packages are not only an important communication channel to the consumers, they also protect food from microbiological spoilage and mechanical damage."
The new technology developed, and knowledge obtained from this project, will also be applicable in other packaging concepts, to extend the shelf life of a broad variety of food products from meat to fruits and vegetables, and improve their quality for the consumer.
The project, which is being funded by the EU, was originally started in August 2001, and is now said to be nearing the stage where it can be marketed for use in the dairy industry.