Asiago cheese is a delicious and popular type of cheese that originates from Italy. With its nutty and slightly sweet flavor, it’s no wonder that many people enjoy adding it to their meals.
However, if you’re pregnant or have a weakened immune system, you may be wondering whether or not it’s safe to consume. One of the main concerns is whether or not Asiago cheese is pasteurized.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the answer to this question and provide you with some helpful tips on how to safely enjoy this tasty cheese.
So, let’s dive in!
Is Asiago Cheese Pasteurized?
Asiago cheese can be made from either pasteurized or unpasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a process that involves heating the milk to a high temperature to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
While pasteurization can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it’s important to note that not all Asiago cheese is pasteurized. Some varieties of Asiago cheese are made with raw or unpasteurized milk, which can increase the risk of bacterial contamination.
If you’re pregnant or have a weakened immune system, it’s important to be cautious when consuming Asiago cheese. Unpasteurized cheese can contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, which can cause serious health problems for both you and your baby.
What Is Pasteurization?
Pasteurization is a process that involves heating milk to a high temperature to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. This process is commonly used in the production of dairy products, including cheese. When milk is pasteurized, it is heated to a temperature of approximately 65°C (149°F) for a certain period of time. This kills off any pathogenic bacteria that could be potentially harmful to humans.
The process of pasteurization is considered more efficient on a large scale, as there is less care necessary in the milk collection stage where bacteria from the cows runs rampant. Pasteurizing the milk also extends the shelf life of dairy products. Although pasteurization does kill off harmful bacteria, it also kills the good bacteria that gives some raw milk cheeses their unique, complex flavors.
In general, most of the cheeses available today in Canada are pasteurized. However, some varieties of Asiago cheese can still be made with unpasteurized or raw milk. It’s important to note that unpasteurized cheese can contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, which can cause serious health problems for certain individuals.
If you’re pregnant or have a weakened immune system, it’s important to be cautious when consuming Asiago cheese or any other unpasteurized dairy products. Always check the label and make sure to choose pasteurized options whenever possible to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.
Why Is Pasteurization Important For Cheese?
Pasteurization is an important process for cheese because it helps to ensure a safer milk supply. Without proper care and hygiene, harmful bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter jejuni, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Coxiella burnetii could grow and proliferate. By heating the milk upfront before cheese making, the levels and chances of these bugs taking root and growing down the line are lowered. While pasteurization isn’t a silver bullet that can absolutely prevent the presence and growth of these pathogenic microbes, it can help lower the numbers of undesirable spoilage microorganisms and enzymes.
Another reason why cheese makers started to pasteurize their milk is due to increasing consumer demand for consistency in cheeses throughout the year. Pasteurized milk produces a cheese that stays more stable, offering consistent texture and flavors. By comparison, raw-milk cheese is alive and constantly changing as it matures.
When manufacturers produce pasteurized cheese, the milk is first heated to approximately 65° C (149° F), which kills off any pathogenic bacteria that could be potentially harmful. Treating the milk with Pasteurization is considered more efficient on a large scale, as there is less care necessary in the milk collection stage where bacteria from the cows runs rampant. Pasteurizing the milk also extends the shelf life of dairy products.
However, it’s important to note that pasteurization does kill off good bacteria that gives some raw milk cheeses their unique, complex flavors. Many argue that pasteurization kills not only potentially harmful bacteria but also other bacteria that are responsible for infusing cheese with natural flavors that can’t be replicated. Therefore, some types of cheese are required by law to use raw milk in their production, such as Parmigiano Reggiano and many other European cheeses.
Risks Of Consuming Unpasteurized Cheese
Consuming unpasteurized cheese, including certain types of Asiago cheese, can be risky for pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems. Unpasteurized cheese may contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, E.coli and Salmonella, which can cause serious foodborne illnesses. According to the FDA, CDC and other US agencies, raw milk is especially unsafe when consumed by infants and young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Pregnant women are also at a higher risk of developing foodborne illnesses when consuming unpasteurized cheese.
Although the risk of contamination is generally low, it’s important to take precautions when consuming Asiago cheese. Always read labels carefully and look for the word “pasteurized” when choosing cheeses. Safe cheeses will typically be found in the standard dairy cooler area of your grocery store. It’s also a good idea to buy individual blocks or bags of shredded cheese versus having your cheese cut from a wheel as this may increase the risk of cross-contamination.
If you’re unsure about whether or not a particular type of Asiago cheese is safe to consume, it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose a pasteurized variety. By taking these necessary precautions, you can still enjoy Asiago cheese while reducing your risk of foodborne illness.
How To Safely Enjoy Asiago Cheese
If you want to enjoy Asiago cheese while reducing your risk of foodborne illness, there are a few precautions you can take:
1. Look for pasteurized Asiago cheese: When buying Asiago cheese, make sure to check the label to see if it has been pasteurized. Pasteurization can help reduce the risk of harmful bacteria and make the cheese safer to consume.
2. Check the aging process: Different types of Asiago cheese have different aging processes, and this can affect their safety for consumption. For example, Asiago d’Allevo cheese is safe for pregnant women because it is aged for four months, while Asiago Pressato is not safe because it is only aged for a short time. A general rule of thumb is that Asiago cheese must age for at least 60 days before it is considered safe for pregnant women to eat.
3. Store and handle the cheese properly: Proper storage and handling can help reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Make sure to store your Asiago cheese in the refrigerator at 40°F or below, and avoid leaving it out at room temperature for extended periods of time.
By following these precautions, you can safely enjoy Asiago cheese without putting yourself or your baby at risk of foodborne illness. Remember to always check the label and aging process, and handle the cheese properly to ensure its safety.
Conclusion: Enjoy Asiago Cheese Safely
If you’re a fan of Asiago cheese, don’t worry! You can still enjoy it safely by taking necessary precautions. When buying Asiago cheese, make sure to check the label to ensure that it has been pasteurized. This will help reduce the risk of consuming harmful bacteria. Additionally, it’s important to check if the cheese has been aged for at least 60 days before consumption. Some varieties of Asiago cheese have specific aging timetables, so be sure to do your research before purchasing.
If you’re pregnant, it’s especially important to be cautious when consuming Asiago cheese. Pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized cheese altogether, as it can pose a risk to both the mother and baby. Stick to pasteurized Asiago cheese and make sure it has been properly aged before consuming.