Is unwrapped, refrigerated cheese safe?

I usually have Australian or New Zealand cheddar cheese or similar cheese in my refrigerator. Recently I've been discarding the original wrapping which usually is not resealable and also not bothering with "cling wrap". I simply put it on a laminated disposable paper dish and refrigerate. Is this practice safe? A 250 gram block is usually consumed within 5 days if not much sooner.

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    consider why cheese was created in the first place... – dax Sep 26 '13 at 16:00

It is almost certainly safe unless it was left out at warm temperatures to spoil, or has molded, or otherwise spoiled in a manner not directly related to being uncovered.

It may, however, be unpalatable due to:

  • Drying out
  • Picking up flavors or odors from other items in the refrigerator

Since you are eating it relatively quickly, if you are not experiencing these issues, your practice should be just fine.

My own personal preferred method is to put my cheese chunks in a zip lock type bag, which substantially cuts down on the drying, especially for moister cheeses like mozzarella or semi-firm cheddar.

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    I tend to find cheese gives flavour generously to the rest of the food if not sealed, rather than picking it up. – Chris H Sep 26 '13 at 16:00
  • That could certainly happen as well... – SAJ14SAJ Sep 26 '13 at 16:10
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    My main concern would certainly be it drying out. – ElendilTheTall Sep 26 '13 at 18:31
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    Some additional ideas against drying out: I just have a tupperware type of container in the fridge for cheese type things, or (if your fridge is a bit too big) you can also be fancy and use a stylish cheese bell =) – Martin Turjak Sep 26 '13 at 22:37

I know you've already accepted an answer, but this piece of information is missing: cheese, kept unwrapped (or uncontained inside something) in a refrigerator, easily picks up bacteria from other foods, particularly meats, raw or cooked, and from the fridge itself. Which is why it should be, preferably, loosely wrapped in cheese paper, baking parchment or greaseproof paper as a minimum safety standard.

What I'm saying can be backed up here: British Cheese FAQ, North Dakota University (go to page 14), WikiHow on Food Selection and Storage. I could go on, but really, I can't think why I should, it ain't difficult to find this info. Course, if you want to store cheese badly, don't matter to me, I ain't eating it anyway.

  • In practice, even if true, that simply is not relevant. There are mold and bacteria present on all foods nearly all the time (unless they are in a can). They are also in the air, inside and outside the refrigerator. The question is not whether they are present (they are), or how to prevent their arrival (they are already there), but rather how to prevent them from having an hospitable environment for growth. – SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 12:50
  • I have a background in environmental health - what you say has some merit, but there are other bacteria which may be present in a domestic refrigerator which can contaminate cheese. I can only pass on standard Health & Safety Food Hygiene advice; whether you ignore it or not is entirely your choice. – bamboo Sep 29 '13 at 19:17
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    Since you are saying this professional knowledge, please do us the courtesy of providing a credible reference. – SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 19:18
  • It's not difficult it's all over the internet - when I've time tomorrow, I will provide a couple of references, but I'm off out now. – bamboo Sep 29 '13 at 19:20

It is safe. In fact, my father only eats Gouda when it's old and hard. After my mother ate the fresh cheese, it would lie unwrapped in the fridge for 2 or 3 weeks until it was hard enough for my father to enjoy it.

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