Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The Mystery of the Inflated Mozzarella Cheese Bag November 7, 2022

The unopened bag is rock-hard solid inflated. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

IT’S A MYSTERY, The Case of the Inflated Mozzarella Cheese Bag. To be sure, this is no Nancy Drew mystery like the vintage Carolyn Keene books shelved in my living room. Rather, this mystery centers in my kitchen, on the second shelf of my refrigerator.

Preparing dinner recently, I reached into the fridge for a bag of shredded cheese. What I pulled out stopped me in my meal prep. I held in my hands an unopened, inflated 16-ounce bag of Happy Farms by Aldi low moisture part skim shredded mozzarella cheese. The bag looked like a fully-blown balloon with no air leakage.

What the heck? I’ve never seen anything like this. Ever. Not in an opened or unopened, fully-sealed bag of cheese. My initial thought was that the cheese was old and spoiled as I purchased it sometime ago. I keep multiple bags of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on hand. But the “best by” date is December 22, 2022.

I needed to solve this mystery, or at least gain some insight. So I sleuthed online, leaning into the theory that bacteria growing inside that cheese bag produced the gas which inflated the plastic bag. That makes sense to me, but then doesn’t answer the question of how bacteria got inside an unopened bag of cheese.

Whatever the cause of this mystery, I did not eat that cheese. Rather, I returned it under the “Aldi Twice as Nice Guarantee” with the item replaced, money refunded. In these days of high inflation and soaring food prices, “inflated” has assumed a new meaning.

Before returning the cheese, I sealed the sealed cheese bag inside a plastic bag lest, for some mysterious reason, the bag exploded inside my fridge. As much as I appreciate a good mystery, I didn’t need a sequel, The Case of the Exploding Cheese Bag.

TELL ME: Have you ever seen anything like this in food packaging?