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Crab Shells Protect Your Favourite Cheeses
March 31, 2010 20:47

Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun)

Biotechnologists from Moscow developed a new coating, made of chitosan, which can cover cheese during maturation and save it from getting rotten. New development is safe and edible, and soon will be ready for use in food industry.

Hard cheeses are tasty and good for your health. However, during maturation cheese can get infected by mold fungi, yeasts and various bacteria, which change taste and quality of cheese, and moreover, can lead to enteric infections in cheese lovers. New development of Russian biotechnologists can save cheeses from microscopic invaders and keep its wonderful taste intact.

The majority of currently existing solutions for protecting surface of maturing cheese from being inhabited by unwanted and, often, dangerous microbes leave much to be desired. Most commonly used protection involved antibiotics or other chemical substances. These chemical compounds aren’t completely safe, that is why their content in cheese should be kept under control.

Researchers from Moscow State University of Applied Biotechnology decided to find an optimal solution for mentioned problem. Scientists suggested using a harmless antiseptic coating, made of chitosan. Chitosan is a natural polymer, which can be found in crab shells, where its function is to maintain shell durability. New development is called “Chit-Asept” and is currently undergoing patenting formalities.



In order to make mentioned coating, researchers developed a new technique for chitosan processing. Chitosan, after processing, turns into substance with good antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties. This substance covers immature cheese surface and hardens, thus protecting it from infection. The coating was tested in the experiments, during which one cheese head was covered with chitosan-based protective film, and another was left as is. After 16 days of incubation, cheese samples were tested on presence of microbes. Analysis showed that cheese, protected by “Chit-Asept”, didn’t need any purification from mold fungi and bacteria, while unprotected cheese was entirely covered by mould. Protective films don’t simply demonstrate some kind of effect – their effect lasts for quite a long time, allowing cheese to be stored without getting rotten.

As test samples, scientists chose popular Russian cheese sorts “Rossiyskiy” and “Shveytsarsky”, which were tested in laboratory and under industrial conditions. Chitosan film was resistant to such wide-spread cheese aggressors as mold fungi Penicillium roquefortii, Penicillium expansum and Penicillium chrysogenum. New protective coating also effectively resists bacteriophages, common for cheese-making enterprises, and maintains necessary moisture level in maturing cheese.

To the moment, the research part on the protective properties of chitosan for mature cheeses is over. Technical documentation is ready, and the process of patenting is launched. Developers are open for any commercial offers on their edible and safe cheese-protecting chitosan coating.

Source: Science & Technologies

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Moscow State University Russian medicine    

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