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Intolerances & risks

Some people have allergic reactions to certain ingredients in foods. These can vary massively from person to person in terms of severity and people need to act based on their own personal needs. If there is no intolerance, there is no reason not to eat the food in question.  Avoiding these ingredients does not benefit a healthy person in any way; in fact, it unnecessarily limits the range of foods available.

Listeria

The correct name of the bacteria, which causes the listeriosis infection is listeria monocytogenes. This infection tends to be mild for people with a well-functioning immune system. However, the infection can have serious consequences for people with a weakened immune system and unborn children. Listeria is found in many places in nature but is largely transferred to humans via food.

Cheese & listeria

Soft and semi-hard cheeses, made from both unpasteurised and pasteurised milk, feta and blue cheese are susceptible to listeria contamination. Pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system should switch to hard and extra hard cheeses (made from unpasteurised or pasteurised milk). The rind should not be eaten. Cream cheese, pasteurised mozzarella, melted cheese, fondue and all other melted or heated cheese like raclette, cheese used in gratin and grilled cheese are all suitable.

Food is never germ-free. Some microorganisms in foods are desired, because they make it possible to produce the food in the first place; some are not. One example of undesired bacteria in food is listeria. Depending on the circumstances, for example during pregnancy, infection by this bacteria is associated with certain risks. You can find more about this below.

Lactose

Lactose (milk sugar) is a disaccharide, which consists of part glucose (grape sugar) and part galactose. When it comes to the digestion of lactose, the bond between these two sugars is separated and the two sugars are absorbed into the blood separately. In the case of people who suffer from a lactose intolerance, this process does not work properly or only to a limited degree. The result is that the undigested lactose reaches deep into the bowel, where it can lead to digestive complaints, such as flatulence and diarrhoea. Limiting the consumption of lactose can improve symptoms and eradicate them altogether. The amount of milk sugar that can be tolerated by a person with a lactose intolerance varies from person to person. Most people with an intolerance can tolerate smaller quantities of lactose. Eradicating lactose completely is rarely necessary.

Cheese & lactose

A large proportion of the lactose is separated with the whey during cheese production. The remaining lactose is almost entirely broken down by lactic acid bacteria during the maturation process. Cheese that has been matured for over six weeks is practically lactose-free. On the other hand, soft cheese and melted cheese do contain a certain amount of lactose.

Histamine

An estimated 1% of the population in Switzerland suffers from a histamine intolerance ranging from mild to severe. It is an intolerance in which the body’s own histamine and that absorbed from food cannot be broken down sufficiently. Histamine is largely found in foods that undergo a ripening, maturation or fermentation process.

Cheese & histamine

All hard, semi-hard and soft cheeses go through a maturation process and thus contain substantial quantities of histamine. People who suffer from a histamine intolerance should switch to cream cheese like cottage cheese or quark. There is no reason for healthy people to avoid histamine-rich foods.

Source: Swiss Society for Nutrition (Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Ernährung, sge) www.sge-ssn.ch

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