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Cheese Classification, Characterization, and Categorization: A Global Perspective

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  • Authors: Montserrat Almena-Aliste1, Bernard Mietton2
  • Editor: Catherine W. Donnelly3
  • VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0086, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Waterbury, VT 05676; 2: Expertise Agroalimentaire, 39800 Poligny, France; 3: University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
  • Received 10 August 2011 Accepted 27 April 2012 Published 24 January 2014
  • Montserrat Almena-Aliste, montse.almena@gmail.com
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  • Abstract:

    Cheese is one of the most fascinating, complex, and diverse foods enjoyed today. Three elements constitute the cheese ecosystem: ripening agents, consisting of enzymes and microorganisms; the composition of the fresh cheese; and the environmental conditions during aging. These factors determine and define not only the sensory quality of the final cheese product but also the vast diversity of cheeses produced worldwide. How we define and categorize cheese is a complicated matter. There are various approaches to cheese classification, and a global approach for classification and characterization is needed. We review current cheese classification schemes and the limitations inherent in each of the schemes described. While some classification schemes are based on microbiological criteria, others rely on descriptions of the technologies used for cheese production. The goal of this review is to present an overview of comprehensive and practical integrative classification models in order to better describe cheese diversity and the fundamental differences within cheeses, as well as to connect fundamental technological, microbiological, chemical, and sensory characteristics to contribute to an overall characterization of the main families of cheese, including the expanding world of American artisanal cheeses.

  • Citation: Almena-Aliste M, Mietton B. 2014. Cheese Classification, Characterization, and Categorization: A Global Perspective. Microbiol Spectrum 2(1):CM-0003-2012. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.

Key Concept Ranking

Soft Cheese
0.4128294
0.4128294

References

1. Fox PF, Guinee TP, Cogan TM, McSweeney PLH. 2000. Fundamentals of Cheese Science, p 388–428. Aspen Publishers, Inc, Gaithersburg, MD.
2. McSweeney PLH, Ottogalli G, Fox PF. 2004. Diversity of cheese varieties: an overview, p 1–22. In Fox PF, McSweeney PLH, Cogan TM, Guinee TP (ed), Cheese Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology, vol 2. Major Cheese Groups, 3rd ed. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
3. Nöel Y. 2002. Vers une approche globale de la characterization des fromages. INRA-ENITAC Agriculture et produits alimentaires de montagne. Collection Actes 8:85–89.
4. Nöel Y, Mazerolles G, Grappin R. 2000. La caractérisation des fromages vers une approche globale, integrée, multi-variables et modulable. Ind Aliment Agric 117:50–52.
5. Lenoir J, Lambert G, Schmidt JL, Tourneur C. 1985. La maîtrise du bioréacteur fromage. Biofutur 41:23–50.
6. Nöel Y, Lefier D. 1991. Factors affecting the consistency of ripened soft and semi-soft cheese. Bull IDF 268:44–48.
7. Almena M, Cepeda A, Noël Y. 2001. Cheeses of Spain: classification and description. J Dairy Sci 84:309.
8. Sperat-Czar A, Mietton B. 2003. Des fromages au lait cru. Profession Fromager 2:6–7.
9. Mietton B. 1991. Courses on Cheesemaking Technology. National Dairy School of Poligny, Poligny, France.
10. Ottogalli G. 2000. A global comparative method for the classification of world cheeses (with special reference to microbiological criteria). Revised edition. Ann Microbiol 50:151–155.
11. Ottogalli G. 1998. A global comparative method for the classification of world cheeses (with special reference to microbiological criteria). Ann Microbiol Enzimol 48:31–58.
12. Mietton B, Weber F, Desmazeaud M, de Roissart H. 1994. Transformation du lait en fromage, p 55–133. In de Roissart H, Luquet FM (ed), Bactéries lactiques, Aspects fondamentaux et technologiques, vol 2. Lorica, Uriage, Paris, France.
13. Mietton B, Gaucheron F, Salaün-Michel F. 2004. Minéraux et transformations fromagères, p 471–559. In Gaucheron F (ed), Mineraux et produits laitiers. TEC & DOC, Paris, France.
14. Kindstedt PS. 2005. Cheesemaking in the New World: the American experience, p 17–36. In Kindstedt PS (ed), American Farmstead Cheese. Chelsea Green Publishing Co, White River Junction, VT.
15. Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, Dirección General de Política Alimentaria. 1990. Catálogo de quesos de España. Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, Madrid, Spain.
16. Lawrence RC, Gilles J. 1980. The assessment of the potential quality of young Cheddar cheese. N Z J Dairy Sci Technol 8:148–151.
17. Fox PF, Guinee TP, Cogan TM, McSweeney PLH. 2000. Fundamentals of Cheese Science, p 341–348. Aspen Publishers, Inc, Gaithersburg, MD.
18. Codex Alimentarius Commission. 1978. Codex General Standard for Cheese. Codex standard 283-1978. Codex Alimentarius Commission, Rome, Italy.
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2014-01-24
2017-09-20

Abstract:

Cheese is one of the most fascinating, complex, and diverse foods enjoyed today. Three elements constitute the cheese ecosystem: ripening agents, consisting of enzymes and microorganisms; the composition of the fresh cheese; and the environmental conditions during aging. These factors determine and define not only the sensory quality of the final cheese product but also the vast diversity of cheeses produced worldwide. How we define and categorize cheese is a complicated matter. There are various approaches to cheese classification, and a global approach for classification and characterization is needed. We review current cheese classification schemes and the limitations inherent in each of the schemes described. While some classification schemes are based on microbiological criteria, others rely on descriptions of the technologies used for cheese production. The goal of this review is to present an overview of comprehensive and practical integrative classification models in order to better describe cheese diversity and the fundamental differences within cheeses, as well as to connect fundamental technological, microbiological, chemical, and sensory characteristics to contribute to an overall characterization of the main families of cheese, including the expanding world of American artisanal cheeses.

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FIGURE 1

Cheese classification by Lenoir et al. ( 5 ), showing the diversity of cheese technologies in France. The asterisks indicate terms added to the translation of the original diagram in French, to avoid technological confusion when translating the term (literally meaning “soft cheese” but technically referring to a type of cheese technology that does not involve any pressing during the cheesemaking process). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f1

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 2a

Didactic scheme showing the different cheese technologies in terms of fundamental technological and microbiological characteristics. PNCC, pressed noncooked cheese; PSCC, pressed semicooked cheese; PCC, pressed cooked cheese; PFC, pasta filata cheese. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f2a

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 2b

Didactic scheme showing the different cheese technologies in terms of fundamental technological and microbiological characteristics. PNCC, pressed noncooked cheese; PSCC, pressed semicooked cheese; PCC, pressed cooked cheese; PFC, pasta filata cheese. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f2b

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 3

Scheme modeling the development of the main types of curds (lactic, enzymatic, and mixed) based on the dynamics and intensity of acidification and the drainage during the cheesemaking process as described by Mietton et al. ( 9 , 13 ). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f3

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 4

Technological cheese classification ( 9 ). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f4

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FIGURE 5

Cheese as an ecosystem model ( 9 ). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f5

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FIGURE 6

Principal sources of diversity in pressed uncooked cheeses. Cheese classifications follow the ( 18 ). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f6

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FIGURE 7

Schematic classification of pasta filata cheeses, including technological and compositional characteristics. Symbols indicate the level of residual sugars on the final product: +++, important; ++, moderate; +, low; *, variable depending on lactic acid bacterial activity. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f7

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 8

Effects of salt content and a on microbial development. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f8

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FIGURE 9

Sensory profiles of different unpressed uncooked cheeses (bloomy-rind and washed-rind varieties) from France and the United States. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f9

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 10

Sensory profiles of different unpressed uncooked cheeses (blue cheese varieties) from France and the United States. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f10

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 11

Examples of sensory profiles of two varieties of pressed uncooked cheese (Tomme style) from France and the United States. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f11

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 12

Sensory profiles of two varieties of pressed cooked cheese from France and the United States at two different aging times. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f12

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 13a

Categories and subcategories for the ACS competition system. Categories Q (cultured milk products) and R (butter) are not shown. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f13a

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 13b

Categories and subcategories for the ACS competition system. Categories Q (cultured milk products) and R (butter) are not shown. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f13b

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 13c

Categories and subcategories for the ACS competition system. Categories Q (cultured milk products) and R (butter) are not shown. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f13c

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 13d

Categories and subcategories for the ACS competition system. Categories Q (cultured milk products) and R (butter) are not shown. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f13d

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 14

Relevance of the different ACS cheese categories, based on average data from 2005 to 2010, as well as data from 2010 alone. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f14

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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FIGURE 15

Difference in growth for each ACS cheese category between 2005 and 2010. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012.f15

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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Tables

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TABLE 1

Adapted cheese classification from Ottogalli's model ( 10 ) incorporating examples of Vermont cheeses and including new and/or modified categories

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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TABLE 2

Principal physicochemical characteristics of fresh cheese (at unhooping) from three types of models described in Fig. 3

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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TABLE 3

Chemical composition of different cheeses representing different lactic/enzymatic character at two different times (after unhooping and after ripening)

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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TABLE 4

Classification and principal characteristics of unpressed-uncooked cheese technologies (including soft and blue cheeses)

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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TABLE 5

Descriptive classification of blue cheeses

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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TABLE 6

Classification and principal characteristics of pressed uncooked cheeses

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012
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TABLE 7

Principal characteristics of different styles of pressed semicooked and cooked cheeses

Source: microbiolspec January 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.CM-0003-2012

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