How Many Bacteria Live in One Bite of Cheese?
When you eat cheese, you eat the bacteria that helped make it, not only are these bacteria harmless, some are even good for you. One mouthful can hold over a trillion bacteria—almost two hundred times the total number of people in the world.
It is the kind of bacteria used that gives each type of cheese its unique taste. To make cheese, you start with milk.
Cheese-making uses lactic acid bacteria from the lactose in milk. These bacteria are cultured, meaning they are produced under artificial conditions. The type of bacteria is only the beginning of the cheese production process. After the bacteria is cultured, it is allowed to ripen and develop with the addition of rennet in milk.
There is a wide variety of bacterial cultures available that provide distinct flavor and textural characteristics to cheeses. Starter cultures are used early in the cheese making process to assist with coagulation by lowering the pH prior to rennet addition.
The metabolism of the starter cultures contribute desirable flavor compounds, and help prevent the growth of spoilage organisms and pathogens.
Adjunct cultures are used to provide or enhance the characteristic flavors and textures of cheese. Yeasts and molds are used in some cheeses to provide the characteristic colors and flavors of some cheese varieties.