Gorgonzola is a soft-texture mouldy cheese obtained from pasteurised whole cow’s milk to which lactic acid bacteria and selected moulds are added.
The production and maturing of the cheese are affected by the specific milk, curd and cheese treatments, equipment and maturing rooms, which are all essential elements to obtain the distinctive and typical characteristics of this product.
Producers have long and consistently been working to develop appropriate procedures to guarantee the safety of their cheeses. Indeed, protecting consumer safety is undoubtedly one of the most important tasks for food producers.
In particular, in the case of Gorgonzola, pathogenic germs are eliminated through milk pasteurisation, which also allows to reduce other contaminating microfloras. During the ensuing transformation and maturing phases, the microbial ecosystem of the cheese grows once again, especially on the surface, depending on the microorganisms found in the specific production environment.
For this reason, particular attention is given to creating specific procedures aimed at preventing the transfer of new potential hazards from the external environment to the cheese.
Food hygiene regulations have introduced significant innovations on the matter, requiring, in particular, the preparation of “Guides to Good Practice”, designed to provide an appropriate tool to help Operators:
- comply with the relevant hygiene requirements in all stages of production, processing and distribution of the foodstuffs under their control;
- comply with temperature control requirements for foodstuffs;
- maintain the cold chain;
- conduct sampling and analyses;
- comply with microbiological criteria for foodstuffs.
The current legislation has extended the liability of producers in terms of guaranteeing the safety of their products, with the ensuing need for producers to reassess or, if appropriate, modify their self-control procedures in terms of hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP):
- identifying any hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels;
- identifying the critical control points at the step or steps at which control is essential to prevent or eliminate a hazard or to reduce it to acceptable levels;
- establishing critical limits at critical control points which separate acceptability from unacceptability for the prevention, elimination or reduction of identified hazards;
- establishing and implementing effective monitoring procedures at critical control points;
- establishing corrective actions when monitoring indicates that a critical control point is not under control;
- establishing procedures, which shall be carried out regularly, to verify that the above measures are working effectively;
- establishing documents and records commensurate with the nature and size of the food business to demonstrate the effective application of the above measures.
Of course the above also applies to the production of Gorgonzola cheese!!
Gorgonzola producers have developed systems and procedures designed to protect their cheese from possible contamination.
Specific manuals are prepared to define for each individual cheese maker:
- the characteristics of the raw material
- the cheese making procedures
- the characteristics of the cheese-making and maturing rooms and their organisation
- the procedures for the sanitisation of the rooms and plants
- the cheese preservation and transport systems
- the cheese safety indexes and control procedures.
The different cheese makers, as well as implementing their own self-control procedures, are also “audited” by external third parties who have been appointed to verify and certify compliance with product specifications.
Indeed, a whole range of activities are carried out to constantly ensure that maximum safety is guaranteed to all consumers.