• Selected-ion flow tube mass spectrometry;
  • split defect;
  • Swiss cheese;
  • volatile organic compounds


Splits/cracks are recurring product defects that negatively affect the Swiss cheese industry. Investigations to understand the biophysicochemical aspects of these defects, and thus determine preventive measures against their occurrence, are underway. In this study, selected-ion, flow tube mass spectrometry was employed to determine the volatile organic compound (VOC) profiles present in the headspace of split compared with nonsplit cheeses. Two sampling methodologies were employed: split compared with nonsplit cheese vat pair blocks; and comparison of blind, eye, and split segments within cheese blocks. The variability in VOC profiles was examined to evaluate the potential biochemical pathway chemistry differences within and between cheese samples. VOC profile inhomogeneity was most evident in cheeses between factories. Evaluation of biochemical pathways leading to the formation of key VOCs differentiating the split from the blind and eye segments within factories indicated release of additional carbon dioxide by-product. These results suggest a factory-dependent cause of split formation that could develop from varied fermentation pathways in the blind, eye, and split areas within a cheese block. The variability of VOC profiles within and between factories exhibit varied biochemical fermentation pathways that could conceivably be traced back in the making process to identify parameters responsible for split defect.