June 4 is National Cheese Day! From that slice of sharp cheddar on your burger at the summer barbeque to that gooey mozzarella pull when you reach for a piece of pizza, people love cheese – and have for a very long time. In fact, it is speculated that cheesemaking predates recorded history. Therefore, it is no surprise that there is a whole day dedicated to this dairy delicacy.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) understands the importance of cheese, not only to consumers but to dairy farmers and producers as well. That is one reason why NIFA funds research dedicated to supporting, strengthening and expanding the dairy industry.
Renewed interest in the consumption and production of raw milk and raw milk cheese, coupled with recent recalls and outbreaks associated with foodborne illnesses, have prompted a need to evaluate potential pathogen control strategies to enhance food safety. The University of Connecticut is working to reduce these risks and improve dairy food safety by studying and characterizing antimicrobial activity during the production process.
Cheese and wine are a popular pairing, and Illinois State University is studying collective market development for entrepreneurs in wine trails and artisan cheese networks. Researchers are examining how collective identities/brands are perceived and evaluated by external stakeholders, such as customers and partners, and then assessing the relative congruence between the two views, hypothesizing that identity congruence is critical for effective brand-building and collective marketing efforts.
Are you a fan of goat cheese? The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez is researching the manufacturing and marketability of value-added products using goat milk. Researchers are working to determine chemical characteristics, sensory attributes and consumer preferences for goat milk products including frozen dessert, confections, yogurt and cured cheese.
Utah State University is working to decrease the occurrence of flavor- and textural defects of aged cheese, the most common being the development of bitter flavors, splits and cracks. Researchers are studying the manipulation of cheese microorganisms to decrease such incidences.
Photo of different types of cheese on table. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.