2020 started as a detour for me; choosing to take a break from clinical medicine to pursue a parallel science career. I was seeking a new set of problems: Cracking a slide, fighting the focus on my microscope or forgetting to change the medium in cell culture over lengthy patient prescriptions and endless 3rd world system downfalls that healthcare workers spend a lifetime fighting. 6 months into the new year, we found ourselves within the confines of our homes and without access to the laboratory until our lecturer thoughtfully decided to bring science to us with the legendary Foldscope.
I hid a container of Cream Cheese in one corner of my fridge and probably caused my partner to re-evaluate his life choices when I hysterically grabbed it from his hands before he attempted to dump it into the bin. We opened it up and found exactly what I’d been hoping for – An impressive, green, fuzzy mold! Excuse the gross picture!
In the food science industry, cheese is classified into 3 groups based on water content. Softer cheeses (like cream cheese) have a high water content and therefore provide a good environment for growing fungi. The most common fungal species that’s responsible for the characteristic green/blue mold is the Penicillium species and is a growing problem for the industry. . I’m no scientist so I couldn’t tell you for certain what species my resident fungus belongs to but it certainly produced some cool pictures with my Foldscope!
- Kure C, Skaar I. The fungal problem in cheese industry. Current Opinion in Food Science. 2019;29:14-19.
- Farrelly, Lauren. “How Does Mold Grow on Cheese?” sciencing.com, https://sciencing.com/mold-grow-cheese-5384755.html.