Paneer or Cottage Cheese is the delight and pride of vegetarians. It is consumed widely in India as the packaged product and the loose variant have their own share of patronage. As any other dairy product, paneer needs cold storage and everyone knows that. The question is: is the cold chain maintained throughout the supply chain? As a matter of fact paneer spoils bacteriologically at room temperature. What are the guidelines and regulations in this regard and whether all packaged brands are safety and hygiene compliant?
We tested eight popular brands of packaged paneer on a range of quality, safety and acceptability parameters. These included milk fat, protein, calcium, energy, cholesterol, moisture and titratable acidity. The brands were further subjected to microbiological safety tests for total plate count (TPC), E. coli, coliform, yeast and mould, S. aureus, Salmonella and L. Monocytogenes and sensory panel tests.
Find out how your favourite paneer brand fared in the tests. Apart from being microbiologically safe, does it have the requisite milk fat, protein, calcium, and energy value? Does it have the right balance of moisture and milk fat? Most of us look out for ‘soft’ attributes like the appearance and texture, but clearly there is a case for knowing if the paneer adheres to the regulatory standards.
We have given highest importance to results of microbiological tests as the results of these tests nullify all other results (physical, chemical, sensory). Even if the paneer performs fine in various other tests, failing the microbiological tests means that it is ‘not suitable for human consumption in raw form’.
Caution by Consumer VOICE: Consumers are advised to buy paneer (preferably packaged) kept in a refrigerated condition. Paneer kept in open should be avoided for consuming in raw form.
The samples were tested as per specification laid out by FSS Regulations, and the relevant Indian Standard IS: 10484 (specifications for paneer), as well as IS: 15346 (specifications for methods of sensory evaluation of paneer). The tests were conducted at an NABL-accredited laboratory.
- Mother Dairy
- Total Plate Count
- Yeast and Mould Count
- Coliform Count
- E. coli
- S. aureus
- Listeria Monocytogenes
- Titratable Acidity