Cheese Mites & Maggots

Cheese Mites & Maggots
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Cheese manufacturers use spider-like insects and fly larvae to impart particular flavors and aromas to certain cheeses.

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Cases of cheese mite dermatitis date back over 60 years in the United States—also known as cheese itch. Though typically considered vermin by the food industry, affecting harder cheeses like aged cheddar in particular, they [maggots] are sometimes intentionally added to cheese for added flavor. In the Journal of Dairy Science, the various species were recently identified. When cheese is ripened with mites, a nutty, fruity flavor and aroma evidently develops. The placement of the anal suckers can evidently be used to help differentiate between the different types, to make sure you put the right one in the cheese. Here’s a video of the little suckers in action, ripening the cheese, developing the nutty, fruity flavor and aroma.

Positively appetizing, though, compared to some other cheesemaking practices. The “cheese skipper” is sometimes present in well-aged cheese and a proof of its quality. The cheese skipper doesn’t sound so bad, until you realize they’re talking about cheese infested with maggots of the cheese fly. The larvae are the well-known cheese skippers. They can cause intestinal infections—even urinary tract infections.

Normally the insects are just contaminants, but there is a spider cheese equivalent of the maggot world, casu marzu—a soft cheese intentionally riddled with thousands maggots of the cheese fly to aid in fermentation. Evidently because the larvae can launch themselves for distances up to 15 centimeters, diners are said to hold their hands above their sandwiches to prevent the maggots from leaping into their face.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring,  watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Ninjatacoshell, John Curtis, Shardan via Wikimedia Commons, and zimpenfish via Flickr.

Cases of cheese mite dermatitis date back over 60 years in the United States—also known as cheese itch. Though typically considered vermin by the food industry, affecting harder cheeses like aged cheddar in particular, they [maggots] are sometimes intentionally added to cheese for added flavor. In the Journal of Dairy Science, the various species were recently identified. When cheese is ripened with mites, a nutty, fruity flavor and aroma evidently develops. The placement of the anal suckers can evidently be used to help differentiate between the different types, to make sure you put the right one in the cheese. Here’s a video of the little suckers in action, ripening the cheese, developing the nutty, fruity flavor and aroma.

Positively appetizing, though, compared to some other cheesemaking practices. The “cheese skipper” is sometimes present in well-aged cheese and a proof of its quality. The cheese skipper doesn’t sound so bad, until you realize they’re talking about cheese infested with maggots of the cheese fly. The larvae are the well-known cheese skippers. They can cause intestinal infections—even urinary tract infections.

Normally the insects are just contaminants, but there is a spider cheese equivalent of the maggot world, casu marzu—a soft cheese intentionally riddled with thousands maggots of the cheese fly to aid in fermentation. Evidently because the larvae can launch themselves for distances up to 15 centimeters, diners are said to hold their hands above their sandwiches to prevent the maggots from leaping into their face.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring,  watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Ninjatacoshell, John Curtis, Shardan via Wikimedia Commons, and zimpenfish via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Cheese manufacturers may also add aluminum to cheese to improve sliceability (see Aluminum in Vaccines vs. Food), just as the poultry industry adds arsenic to the diets of chickens to improve carcass coloration (Arsenic in Chicken). The farmed salmon industry also artificially colors the flesh of their fish (see Artificial Coloring in Fish) and the egg industry tries in vain to compete with greens by adding plant pigments to chicken feed (Egg Industry Blind Spot).

Be sure to check out my other videos on questionable industry practices. Note that the cheddar cheese mite study is available open access, so you can download it by clicking on the link above in the Sources Cited section.

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog post, Adding FDA-Approved Viruses to Meat.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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