wax on cheeses

Is the waxy stuff round most many european cheeses safe or good to eat? I heard that it was paraffin based and not considered healthy? In that case, what is is doing on my cheese?

I asked my brother the chef and he said that it’s there strictly to keep the cheese from drying out and you probably shouldn’t eat it.


The red wax on Edam isn’t going to taste nice, I can’t imagine that it would actually be dangerous though, but I’m not sure if the OP might be talking about this or just the rind (like the white rind on Camenbert or Brie, which could, I suppose, be described as ‘waxy’), which definitely is edible (the best part of the cheese IMHO).

The reason it’s there is to keep the rind clean (so Edam has a nice clean yellow rind, whereas the velvety white rind on Camenbert (yum) is the product of mould growth on the surface.



As long as you’re talking about U.S. cheeses (can’t speak for European regulations)…


Conforming to FDA regulations just means that the wax won’t kill you if you eat it.

However, I think it’s just generally understood that you’re not supposed to eat the wax, the same way you’re not supposed to eat the casing on some kinds of hard sausage.

All you might ever want to know about cheesemaking:
Introduction to Cheesemaking

(my highlighting)
My favourite Cheddar, for example, is bound with cotton, before covered in wax. Eating that would be like eating chocolat wrappers, but with more fiber.
Camembert and Munster on the other hand have a natural rind that is Yummy, just llke Mangetout pointed out.

thanks for the replies. I will eat my cheeses now feeling a lot safer. What prompted me to write in was that paraffin oils and hydocarbon solvents (which are closely related to the waxes) are known to be somewhat harmful. Tracked down this link (http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jecmono/v30je14.htm) which shows the waxes to be very safe.
Bon appetit

Hey, you can make candles from cheese wax. You get some interesting colours, but they’re a bit smelly. (Honest, I’ve done it.)

I am reminded of an old Gilbert Godfried routine in which he discussed wether or not to eat the wax on cheese"

“You didn’t eat the hard black wax? Ya gotta eat the hard black wax! The hard black wax is the best part of the cheese”

“You can’t eat the hard black wax! How could you be so stupid as to eat the hard black wax!”

Its funnier when you hear it I guess.

So that stuff on American cheese slices is supposed to be removed before eating?!

Wow, that tastes much better!