Enlarge image

Camembert cheese: how long will it still be around?

Photo: Image Source / Getty Images

Things are not going well for Camembert cheese with its white peel.

French researchers have warned of its possible demise.

A single fungal strain of the species Penicillium camemberti is currently used for the soft cheese, according to the magazine “Le Journal” from the French research center CNRS.

The strain is not reproduced sexually, so no new genetic material is added.

Some microorganisms are capable of sexual and asexual reproduction.

The industry relied primarily on asexual reproduction and used it to create genetically identical strains, according to the research article.

These could no longer reproduce with other strains and therefore remained cut off from fresh genetic material.

Over the years, the Camembert fungus strain has also lost the ability to produce spores.

The result is already causing problems for cheese producers: the researchers know that it has now become very difficult for producers to obtain sufficient quantities of the fungal strain.

You can enjoy Camembert carefree for a while.

"In the next five to ten years, the Camembert industry will not be threatened," said Tatiana Giraud from the Université Paris-Saclay to the newspaper "Le Parisien."

“But we want to draw attention to the dangers of too much standardization of species,” “Libération” quotes the biologist as saying.

In fact, until the middle of the 20th century, the shell of Camembert was sometimes slightly orange, grayish or green, as the CNRS magazine says.

Companies would then have relied exclusively on the use of the white fungus strain, which was already used for Camembert from 1902 onwards - now the microorganisms are not diverse enough.

The problem also exists with other types of cheese, such as Roquefort, according to the CNRS.

However, Camembert is particularly threatened.

It would therefore be possible to ferment Camembert with other mushroom strains.

However, consumers would then have to adapt to a changed color, a changed texture of the shell or a slightly different taste.

Like other types of cheese, Camembert is initially made from raw milk.

During processing, its surface is inoculated with mold.

This releases substances that give the cheese its special aroma.