It is about the quantity
Natamycin (E 235) was subjected to a preliminary screening and assessment by the Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) before its approval. The “leveling no toxicological effects” was ultimately determined after a few increases to a maximum of 200 milligrams per person and day or 3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
The Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) considered natamycin on cheese and sausage casings to be acceptable if only the finished product was treated with natamycin and the residues on the surface were not more than one milligram per square decimeter. 5 mg below the surface, natamycin may no longer be detectable.
German experts criticize these values
German experts assess these values considerably more critically than those responsible for the EU. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfV), formerly BgVV, agreed with the use of natamycin in cheese. However, they did not consider a surface treatment of sausage casings as necessary. From the microbiological and technological point of view, the German authorities consider that there is no need to use an antibiotic.
Not every cheese is subject to labeling
Natamycin is indicated in the list of ingredients of a ready-made cheese. However, cheese varieties, which are offered loosely at the käsetheke, must not be marked. It remains unclear whether the cheese was treated with antibiotics or not.
Cut the cheese bark – including 5 millimeters of the cheese itself
The indication “bark is not suitable for consumption” conveys to the customer only that the waxy coating is inedible and therefore should be removed. The consumer does not know, however, that he should cut off at least five millimeters of the cheese in order to protect himself against the antibiotic. Otherwise, it gets into the body and can damage the intestinal flora.
Also, cheese varieties which do not have a visible bark can be loaded with natamycin. Although the consumer is not able to reach the set maximum levels, he regularly receives small amounts of the antibiotic through regular cheese consumption. Thus, he damages his intestine with each cheese bread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also concluded in an investigation that even these small amounts of cheese contribute adequately to the intestinal flora. A further serious aspect is a possible resistance to antibiotics.
The customer is deliberately not informed
It seems that this important information is not passed on to the consumer, because the truth about this type of cheese treatment would be a good idea for some cheesemakers, and would cause considerable economic damage to the industry.
With about 2 million tonnes of cheese a year, Germany is still Europe’s number one cheese maker. Only in the USA is more cheese produced. The German cheese producers export about 30 percent. About 80 percent of this export is sold within the European Union.
Warnings against additives are not publicly insecure about the sensitized consumer.