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The Aurillac cheese facility, an experimental unit that is unique in Europe

With its technological systems adapted to all types of cheese production and benefiting from level 2 containment, the Aurillac cheese facility can offer a broad range of equipment and services for industry, such as challenge tests in model cheeses to evaluate the efficiency of bioprotection ferments or the development of new cheese products.

The cheese hall of Aurillac of the Mixed Cheese Research Unit is a rather unique place because of its technological equipment that allows the pilot scale implementation of most cheese technologies. © Inra, Christophe CHASSARD
Updated on 10/23/2017
Published on 08/28/2017

Experimental cheeses for all tastes

Based in the heart of the Auvergne region, the Aurillac cheese facility operated by the Joint Research Unit for Cheese Research is an unique site equipped with technologies that enable the implementation at pilot scale of most cheese-making methods: for pressed or non-pressed, boiled or non-boiled and blue-veined cheeses. The unit processes heat-treated milk but also has acknowledged expertise in the processing of raw milk. Another advantage is that the facility can produce cheeses at different scales, ranging from the classic format of a 40 kg Cantal to small model curd cheeses weighing 5 g.
This complete mastery of cheese technologies under conditions similar to those found in industry enables the development of new products using small quantities and the evaluation of numerous experimental conditions. The scale economies achieved by working on model or small cheeses enable a larger number of trials and the acquisition of more data for analysis.
The facility also benefits from six separate ripening cellars (400 kg of cheese per cellar) that are computer-controlled with conditions can be continuously monitored in parallel.

An L2 level of containment for work on pathogens

The 400m2 of the facility dedicated to cheese production are classified as having an L2 level of containment. This degree of safety enables work on cheeses that may be contaminated by pathogens, such as Listeria or Salmonella in particular. These controlled conditions are essential to demonstrate the efficacy of the bioprotective activity of ferments or to determine active doses.

Complete mastery of milk quality

The facility is based in the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) region of the Massif Central, and the team maintains close local relationships with two of INRA’s experimental units: the Herbipole and the Experimental Farm in La Fage. These collaborations offer an opportunity to master milk quality upstream (control of livestock practices, control of livestock feeds, production of appropriate milk, etc.), whether this concerns cow’s or ewe’s milk.

Openness to industry

The Cheese Facility offers services adapted to the needs of interested companies, in the form of:

  • The provision of services,
  • Research collaborations,
  • The rental of facilities with technical support.

For further information, please contact Christophe Chassard and/or René Lavigne (cf. contact)

Scientific contact(s):

  • Christophe CHASSARD (04 71 45 64 11) INRA-Université de Clermont Auvergne Joint Research Unit for Cheese Research (UMFR), INRA Aurillac, 20 rue Côte de Reyne, 15000 AURILLAC
  • René LAVIGNE (04 71 45 64 15) INRA-Université de Clermont Auvergne Joint Research Unit for Cheese Research (UMFR), INRA Aurillac, 20 rue Côte de Reyne, 15000 AURILLAC
Associated Division(s):
Microbiology and the Food Chain
Associated Centre(s):
Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Joint Research Unit for Cheese Research (UMRF)

Plateau de fromages.. © INRA, TOUREAU Valérie

Created in January 2017, UMRF has assembled skills from three laboratories:

  • INRA’s Cheese Research Laboratory in Aurillac
  • The Biology Laboratory from Aurillac University Institute of Technology
  • The Clermont-Ferrand Research Unit on Consumers, Foods, Typicality, Safety and Health (CALITYSS VetAgro-Sup)

The UMRF project is structured around two research areas which range from the production of raw milk to consumer preferences. The first concerns the study of microbial diversity and development of the qualities and perception of traditional cheeses. The second focuses on controlling health quality and optimising the nutritional properties of traditional cheese to ensure the health and satisfaction of consumers.
Thus work by the UMRF should also enable the identification of consumer expectations and characterisation of their perceptions of traditional cheeses and innovations in order to improve their acceptability. The aim is to better control cheese technologies while guaranteeing the safety and satisfaction of consumers so as to confirm the importance of cheese to a healthy and diversified diet.