Enzyme Modified Cheese in Halacha


Q. I have heard that food technologists can now accelerate the aging of cheeses. Is this true, and would I have to wait six hours after eating such an “aged” cheese before eating meat?

A. As of the last twenty five years, many cheese products contain a flavor that is known in the dairy industry as “enzyme-modified cheese.” This is created by a process in which a fresh cheese curd is treated with special enzymes under specific heat conditions to produce a cheese flavor 15 to 30 times the intensity of natural cheese. Instead of waiting six to nine months to yield a desired flavor profile, the process takes two to four days.

Pri Megadim (Y.D., M.Z. 89, 4) cites two reasons for waiting six hours after eating aged cheese before eating meat. One is because the cheese is hard and may remain stuck between one’s teeth; the other is because the strong taste of aged cheese lingers in one’s mouth.

Although the texture of enzyme modified cheese is not hard (it’s a liquid or powder) and we are not concerned about it remaining stuck in one’s teeth, its flavor may certainly linger. Pri Megadim writes that if a cheese has a strong flavor, even if it was not aged, one must still be machmir (stringent) and wait six hours (or whatever one’s custom is). Therefore, Rav Schachter concluded that in theory, if one were to eat plain enzyme modified cheese flavor, he should wait six hours before eating meat (See Teshuva here). However, enzyme modified cheese flavor is typically incorporated into another food (for example a cheese sauce). In tomorrow’s Halacha Yomis we will explain why it is not necessary to wait six hours in such instances.

This Matzav.com column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them to grossmany@ou.org. These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.



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