Nizo develops tool to objectively measure cheese defect

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cheese

Nizo Food Research has developed a new grading system and computer tool to objectively measure 'rim air' defects in cheese and avoid potential conflicts between buyers and sellers.

Rim air is an accumulation of small holes within about 1 or 2 cm of the crust of hard and semi-hard cheeses such as Gouda-type and Maasdammer-type products. It is a visual defect which can lower the value of cheese depending on the severity of the case.

When present to a moderate degree, rim air has no effect on consumer appreciation, but in very bad cases it can cause cracks to form in the cheese and reduce value significantly.

Objective information

Nizo has therefore developed a universal grading system and computer tool to enable cheese producers to measure rim air in cheese and provide objective information for judging the commercial value of a cheese.

Hans Tromp, senior texture scientist at Nizo, told “In view of the many different grading methods that are used in the field to judge and quantify rim air intensity, there is a need for an objective description of different intensities or grades of rim air.”

Tromp added that the grading system developed by Nizo “avoids conflicts between selling and buying parties”.

Grading system and computer tool

It uses 10 grades of rim air, ranging from 1 (none) to 10 (very bad), with each grade corresponding to a description in quantitative, physical terms.

The grading system was developed with the help of cheese experts, who were asked to describe the grading criteria used in their daily practice, and to grade, according to their own criteria a series of photographs of cheeses.

NIZO then used the system developed through this consultation to create a computer tool that produces an objective grade from the analysis of a photograph of the cross section of a cheese.

The tool can be used on samples of cheese batches which are ready for market. NIZO claims that the results provide an objective source of information for judging the value of a cheese, avoiding potential conflicts between commercial parties that may arise from conflicting, subjective assessments.

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