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Aug 13, 2010 12:04 PM

Orange Bacterial Colonies on my Brie, is this normal?

I just got back from Whole Foods and bought a wedge of Isigny Ste Mere brie. I unwrapped the package and that is when I noticed little round smooth less than .5mm orange bacterial colonies on the rind next to the plastic. Normally when I get brie the rind is white and cream color.

I am wondering if there was moisture trapped when the cheese was wrapped, causing these colonies to form or is this normal for this cheese? Bottom line: should I eat it?

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  1. It's common, and could be a number of things. It's likely that it's b. linens, the bacteria that makes a washed rind cheese so orange and stinky. Maybe got transferred when the cheese was cut and wrapped.

    I'd eat the cheese, but not the mis-colored rind.

    1. Agree that it most likely a harmless mold and possibly B. Linens, as cheesemonger suggests. I'd probably return/exchange it ony because I prefer to eat the rind on a Brie. Removing the rind invariably means that you lose some of the paste that sticks to it. However, I don't know how convenient it would be for you to go back to the store or if you can wait until the next time you're at WF. So your call.

      4 Replies
      1. re: cheesemaestro

        Obviously, you don't have to throw out everything that shows a spot of mold on it. Some foods can be safely dealt with and still partially saved if they show signs of fungal growth. Below is a set of guideline from M. Susan Brewer, Ph.D., R.D., a specialist in food safety. Her articles and works are found in many state university extension services publications lists.

        If the food shows even a tiny mold spot, follow these guide lines:

        Hard or firm foods with tiny mold spots can be trimmed; cut away the area around the mold (at least an inch) and rewrap in clean wrap. Make sure that knife does not touch the mold.
        Soft foods such as cheese slices, cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt should be thrown away.
        Soft Cheeses, (Mozzarella Brie)
        Sour Cream, Yogurt, Cottage
        Bacon, Hot dogs, Sliced lunch meats
        Meat pies
        Opened canned ham
        Most left-over food
        Bread, Cakes, rolls, flour, pastry
        Peanut butter
        Juices, berries
        Jam, Jellies, Syrups
        Cucumbers, Tomatoes
        Spinach, Lettuce, other leafy vegetables
        Bananas, Peaches, Melons
        Stored nuts, whole grains, rice

        1. re: ospreycove

          Ospreycove, I'm not sure what you're responding to in my post. I did not suggest that the OP throw the cheese out, only that if she is someone who enjoys the rind on Brie, she might think about bringing it back to the store and exchanging it. From her description, it seems that the spots are too numerous to just trim them away. This is more a matter of quality and flavor than food safety. Numerous cheeses harbor molds on their rinds that are technically harmless. However, that doesn't mean that such rinds are palatable.

          What is your own position? Are you advocating that the OP toss the Brie, based on the source you cite? This source does not distinguish between mold on a cheese's rind and mold on or in its paste. These aren't necessarily handled the same way. (It's also not clear if what the OP is seeing is actually mold.) A lot of misinformation has been published about cheese by nutritionists and other food experts. I think it is simply wrong to say (as Ms. Brewer's list implies) that every time you see a spot on a piece of Brie, you should throw the whole thing out.

          1. re: cheesemaestro

            Cheese........ I was quoting a food safety mag. but more importantly isn't there some adage that goes like if the bloom is red? it is toxic, maybe I have the wrong color.
            As far as myself, I would eat it mold and all as long as it was not growling or oozing green slime!!!!

            1. re: ospreycove

              You're right that red, pink, orange and black molds are the bad types, while white, grey, blue and green molds on cheese are less problematic.

              The question here is whether what the OP is seeing is mold or something else. At first, I was inclined to agree with cheesemonger that it was probably B. linens, which is a bacterium, not a mold. It produces an orange to red coating on cheese rinds, primarily washed rind (stinky) cheeses, but it can sometimes be found on Brie. After giving this more thought, I'm not so sure of my initial "diagnosis." B. linens typically shows up on Brie as reddish streaks, not well defined spots, so what the OP has on her cheese may well be mold instead. It would have been helpful to have a picture, but absent one, I'm going to now take a more cautious stand and recommend that she return the cheese to the store.

      2. personally I would take the cheese back if you just bought it. I also think that orange mold on brie is not good, green ok, orange no.

        1. Picture a wedge of brie and the rind looks like you blew out an orange candle with too much force and the wax speckled everything. That is what the cheese looks like.

          If it was mold then I might not be too concerned, but these are clearly round smooth shiny orange bacterial colonies. Mold is hairy. I was wondering if these were a naturally occurring variation on the rind of this particular cheese that I was unaware of. I wish I had kept my microbiology books from school. I will return the cheese though I was tempted to eat it yesterday.

          6 Replies
          1. re: septocaine_queen

            Hairy? Take it back. B. linens is not hairy.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              s_q stated that her contamination was NOT hairy. I'm sticking with the b. linens diagnosis with a caveat- It's not the cheese that you intended to buy, so return it.

              1. re: cheesemonger

                Sorry, I read too quickly. I thought it was b. linens also, and agree that "It's not the cheese that you intended to buy, so return it."

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Actually the B. Linens could have gotten there at the factory . According to many experts the Brie and Camenbert have basically the same recipe and differ mainly only in thier size (brie is usally larger) and the region of France they orginally come from Isingy ste. Mare is located in Normandy. One of the interesting things about Camenbert is that, if you brine was the rind when the cheese is just made (and thus prohibit the mold spores from infecting it) it induces B. linens to colonize it, and instead of becoming Camembert, it becomes a cheese called Livarot. Isingy ste. Mare (to my knowledge) does not make Livarot (most Livarot production is centered around a few towns) but it DOES make Pont'leveque which is a very similar cheese (basically it differs from Livarot mostly in the ageing (Livarot is aged for a much longer time) and the shape (Pont L"eveque is square, Livarot, like Camembert and brie, is round) So I would imagine that there is a fairly good chance that the ageing areas at Isingy ste. Mare have heaty colonies of both the B. linens bacterium and the Penincillum camenberti and small quantites of each getting on cheeses meant to carry the other is likey not suprising.

                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                    B. linens is everywhere. The "recipes" for fungi/bacteria vary widely by cheese manufacturers everywhere, and can be unpredictable and predictable, serendipitous and proprietary, at the same time. FYI, there are distinct differences in Europe between cheeses marketed for European consumption and US consumption.

                    This cheese sounds as though a minor cheesemaking accident occurred. Enough to take it back.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      "B. linens is everywhere."

                      In fact, it is a major contributor to foot odor. It's no coincidence that people often compare the smell of washed rind cheeses to dirty socks or stinky feet.

                      I'm not convinced that what septocaine_queen is seeing on her cheese is B. linens, but agree that the appropriate action is to take it back to the store.

          2. I haven't returned it yet. I just back from Tahoe this weekend. So here is a pic of the offender

            5 Replies
            1. re: septocaine_queen

              I know it not's what you expected, but the cheese looks ripe and runny, and the b. linens minor -- like tiny orange polka dots --and it's a delicious mold in cheesemaking. I think I'd eat it. But that's the ripe cheese hedonist in me. I'd at least taste a tidbit.

              1. re: septocaine_queen

                This could be B. linens. The color is about right. One further question: Are the spots flush with the surface of the rind or raised above it? From the picture, it does not appear they are raised. If not, I would lean toward them being B. linens and the cheese being safe to consume. If raised/bumpy, I would suspect another organism and would not eat it.

                1. re: cheesemaestro

                  They are on top like you would see bacterial colonies on a petri dish.

                  1. re: septocaine_queen

                    We eat brie like that all the time -- I thought that orangey colour came from being very ripe. Still alive and kicking up here in the Great White North :-).

                    1. re: septocaine_queen

                      One thing is clear: The longer you hesitate, the less likely the cheese will be in good shape, regardless of what the spots are. You'll wind up with an overripe, ammoniated piece of Brie. At this point, I would go with your gut. You have the cheese in front of you; we don't. I sense that you're still reluctant to eat it, so the best thing may be for you to take it back to WF. Let us know what you decide.