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Mar 6, 2013 04:55 AM

A question about pre cut, pre wrapped grocery store cheese

Here's a cheese question I've been wondering about for some time.

I was at Whole Foods last night checking out the cheese dept and wondered about all the pre wrapped cheese that sits on a wooden barrel display at room temp until customers buy it up.

How long can that cheese be sitting out precut, pre wrapped, stored at room temp in a grocery store?

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  1. A while? I'm sure there are rules about such things in grocery stores, but aged cheeses really don't spoil -- they've already been sitting for weeks at temperatures that are generally cool but above refrigerator temperature. I leave my hard cheeses out on the counter for days, sometimes well over a week, and my soft-ripened cheeses on the counter for a day or two -- with the caveat that my kitchen is rarely over 70 degrees.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      No these weren't all hard cheeses. The gouda looked too soft and puffy against the plastic wrap sitting inside a barrel filled with large, pre cut, wrapped pieces. I don't understand why it wasn't in the refrigerated area. The more I looked around closely the more I realized a good deal of cheese was sitting out at room temp that I would expect to be chilling.

      1. re: HillJ

        I also saw the same over several weeks-
        I never looked closely at the barrel displayed cheeses.

    2. IMHO, no cheese should be precut or prewrapped, it is a form of cheesacide.

      1. Grocery stores have pretty strict compliance rules about how long cheese can be left out of refrigeration. Those wooden barrels have wheels- that cheese is (or should, I can't speak about your individual store) put into the walk-in cooler at night.

        Different states, even counties, have different standards, and some chains employ outside companies to ensure compliance and inspect regularly.

        That said, cheese is pretty tough- tougher than most people think, including many health dept. inspectors.

        As I said, I can't speak to your particular store's practice, but I can assure that WF has "best practices" re: off-refrigeration displays well worked out. Ask someone in the cheese department, and I'm sure they would be happy to explain them to you.

        5 Replies
        1. re: cheesemonger

          I will def. follow up. It didn't occur to me that the barrels were moved. I was there pretty late at night and no one was in the cheese dept to ask. I'm also glad to know cheese is pretty tough. I never thought of cheese that way until now. txs.

          1. re: cheesemonger

            Having worked in 3 W(t)F's, while the barrels are rolled in nightly and the displays generally broken down to a reefer, the product had to rewrapped often and the fat leakage was very evident as any cheese left to room temp over long periods would show. Thus a product kept getting drier the longer it stayed out. Not saying cheese isn't resilient but it does certainly suffer from the practice.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              no argument from me on any count. Sometimes Merchandising trumps all. :)

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                So, Saran wrap is the equivalent of waterboarding for cheese, it seems. I enjoyed your term "cheesacide" above.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Okay, this is closer to what I was asking and getting at. I'm going to be particular about what I buy wrapped.

              2. I work in the Cheese Dept of a well known high end grocer and we rewrap cheese over and over and over and over and over again. Often 5 times depending on the type of cheese. This grosses me out because I know I am not serving my customers fresh cheese. I will buy some cheese the day I cut it and wrap it or I go to specialty cheese shops.