Is Feta Cheese Pasteurized​?


Let’s be clear, not all cheese made using the pasteurized milk. For example, the traditional Parmigiano Reggiano is made using the unpasteurized milk, and they still kept the old method until these days. This may not be a problem for normal people, but it’s quite an issue for the pregnant mom. FDA urged that pregnant women should only eat cheese that is made of pasteurized milk to reduce the risk of getting listeriosis.

For feta, it may be pasteurized or not. As the original Greece-made feta is using the unpasteurized sheep/goat milk, some cheesemakers kept the tradition, but many medium-size cheese factories are switching to the pasteurized milk for a reason.

So, you have to check the label to make sure it’s made using the pasteurized milk. To save you from doing that, here are a few brands of popular feta cheese I found on Amazon:

Brand / Provider / ProductMilk Pasteurisation
igourmetYes
Dodoni Yes
VintageYes
Meredith DairyNot Stated
ValbresoNot Stated
Indo EuropeanNot Stated
YorsanNot Stated
AthenosYes
Treasure CaveYes
Breezy Meadows FarmNo
President Yes
Real Greek ArtisanYes
Lidl Not Stated
YamasNot Stated
AustralianNot Stated

Many feta brands above did not state clearly whether the milk used is pasteurized. The one with unpasteurized has used the “raw milk” as ingredients.

Why it has to be pasteurised?

As feta is the fermented product made from sheep milk, it is also an excellent medium encouraging bacteria to grow to produce a desired flavor and texture for the cheese. And sometimes, it is unavoidably to have harmful bacterium joining the party.

Pasteurization is an essential step to exposure milk to a short duration of heat. Although it will destroy the harmful germs, it will also diminish some of the good bacteria, heat-labile enzymes, and vitamins. But, the pasteurized milk will have a longer shelf-life and safer to consume. So, it’s a trade-off.

The facilities in a cheese factory. Every step has to be regulated under stringent rule to reduce contamination.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis is an infection of food-borne bacteria which can cause miscarriage. It’s mainly caused by the bacteria species named Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria targets people with a weakened immune system, such as children, elderly and pregnant women.

Other than cheese, it can also be found in raw meat, uncooked vegetable, fruit, and milk. Proper cooking or pasteurization is sufficient to kill the bacteria.

Soft cheese

Soft cheese means the cheese that is watery and softer than the standard hard cheese, such as the blue cheese gorgonzola. The higher moisture level makes it a better environment for the bacteria to thrive. As a result, shortening the storage life-span and easier for the contamination to take place. For the same reason, most of the soft cheese don’t really age for a long time, or at all. While hard cheese usually takes months or years to age, soft cheese is often briefly aged for days or a couple of weeks.

Soft-ripened cheese which made using the unpasteurized milk, such as brie, feta, homemade Latin-style “Queso fresco”, blue cheese, and ricotta are estimated to be 50- to 160-fold greater risk than cheeses made from the pasteurized milk (1).

Read hard vs soft cheese: Gorgonzola vs Parmesan.

Takeaway

Feta, as one of the soft cheese, should only be consumed by pregnant women only if pasteurized. You should always check the product label to make sure the milk used is pasteurized. Even so, the pasteurized (milk) cheese doesn’t always guarantee a free of harmful germs, but at a lower risk. Ultimately, it is depending on the cheesemakers’ handling procedures and sanitary conditions.

AaronMH

I have a background in biotechnology, and I love cats.

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