From the appearance to the flavor profile, enjoying cheese is a wonderful sensory experience. As such, manufacturers work hard to meet the flavor, texture and visual expectations of customers, but visual defects can detract from the premium image of cheese. Though visual defects such as pinking are not a safety issue, they can deter customers and cause significant issues for the industry. Therefore, understanding the cause of visual defects and prevention methods is essential to upholding the premium image of the dairy industry.
In terms of visual defects, a loss of color pigment is one of the most common issues in the industry. Though milk itself is generally white, or perhaps a light yellow tone if the cows are grass-fed, many cheesemakers add annatto or another colorant to the cheese to create the orange color that many customers have come to expect from a cheese such as Cheddar. Derived from a plant and utilized for centuries, annatto has proven to be a safe and effective colorant, but visual defects such as pinking or bleaching are common when the annatto begins to lose its pigment.