Notice to Industry - Use of natamycin in cheese production

September 19, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

The CFIA would like to provide clarification to the dairy industry on the use of natamycin to prevent mould growth in cheese making.

Natamycin is regulated as a food additive (class 3 preservative) when applied to cheese to control mould growth. As per Health Canada's list of permitted preservatives, it is only permitted on the surfaces of whole and shredded (naming the variety) cheese and cheddar cheeses as described below.

It is the responsibility of regulated parties to ensure that their use of natamycin is compliant with regulatory requirements.

Maximum levels of use

20 ppm - Surface of (naming the variety) cheese and cheddar cheese

The use of natamycin as per Health Canada's list of permitted preservatives has been previously interpreted to mean that manufacturers may only use up to 20 ppm of natamycin on the surface of whole cheese. However, Health Canada has clarified that the maximum level of use is 20 ppm, based on the weight of the cheese product that is offered for sale. This means that manufacturers may use a surface application of natamycin exceeding 20 ppm during production as long as they are able to demonstrate that the cheese offered for sale does not contain more than 20 ppm.

This authorized use extends to a surface application maximum depth of 5 mm in the cheese. Any presence below 5 mm of the surface is considered to be non-compliant.

Immersing cheese rounds in brine that contains natamycin, during maturation, is an acceptable means of applying the natamycin to the surface of varietal and cheddar cheeses provided that the maximum level of natamycin in the finished cheese does not exceed 20 ppm.

10 ppm - Surface of grated or shredded (naming the variety) cheese, and grated or shredded cheddar cheese

The maximum level of use is based on the weight of the homogenized finished product.

Cheese curds

There are no provisions for the use natamycin in the production of cheese curds.

Additional information

If the Health Canada list of permitted additives does not allow for a particular use of a food additive, the manufacturer is required to file a food additive submission in accordance with Section B.16.002 of the Food and Drug Regulations before that food additive can be used in foods sold in Canada.

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