Cheese, a concentrated dairy food made from milk, is defined as the fresh or matured product obtained by draining the whey (moisture or serum of original milk) after coagulation of casein, the major milk protein. Casein is coagulated by acid, which is produced through the addition of select microorganisms and/or by coagulating enzymes. Milk may also be acidified by adding food-grade acidulants, which is the process often used in the manufacture of fresh cheese.
Rich, creamy and flavorful, cheese contributes significant value to prepared foods in terms of taste, nutrition and functionality. Marketing advantages are also conferred on foods prepared with cheese. Cheese helps product developers add value to food, upgrading some foods to gourmet status while contributing to a more natural, homestyle image for others. Consumers typically respond favorably to the word cheese when it appears on retail prepared food labels as well as menu items. Many marketers take advantage of this fact by highlighting the presence of cheese in product names and descriptions.