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?


23 Responses to “The Mystery of the Inflated Mozzarella Cheese Bag”

  1. beth Says:

    I was guessing that something was spoiling in the bag, but like you, don’t understand how it cam to be. I have had a ‘salad in a bag’ do this and it was well before the expiration date. also a box of almond milk, I returned both and did not use them but even the store seem baffled.

  2. My guess is that there was a mishap at the cheese factory – some contamination got in this bag. It happens, just, fortunately, not too often.

  3. I have! I traveled from Oregon to Santa Fe New Mexico once. I was attending a trade show. I used to work for a company that manufactured beef jerky. I shipped the jerky out so it would be there when I arrived. What I found when I opened the boxes, is that ALL of the bags of jerky had blown up like balloons!! They were rounded rather that flat, just like your bag of cheese. From my understanding, the reason for the change was the change in altitude. Where I was in Oregon was at about sea level, while Santa Fe is located at high altitude. I know this doesn’t solve your cheese mystery, but that was the experience that I had with something like it. 🙂

  4. Looovveee a good mystery – not one that implodes food all over my fridge though – right there with you on that. I have had salad bags do this and depending on the circumstances usually just toss or bring back to the store if can be returned. I worry about the bad mold in these situations. Glad it all worked out for ya. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Annette Thorson Says:

    This is a common sight in mountainous areas. The high elevation (even just for a few minutes) does something with the air in the bag causing it to swell. Perhaps the truck who brought the cheese to Aldi’s came over a high mountain pass.

  6. Ken Wedding Says:

    My first thought was a difference in elevation between your home and where the cheese was bagged. But, even if the cheese was packaged at sea level, Faribault isn’t at a high enough elevation (977 ft) to account for the inflation. (I don’t think.)

  7. Lorraine Kamerling Says:

    While flying from the east coast to the west my sister lad a bag of Doritos blow up in that way. Obviously, her’s was due to a change in altitude.

  8. Yep – altitude has a hand in a lot of those inflated bags but not sure about yours. Good move to return it – better safe than sorry.

  9. Yes, seen this before. The cheese did start to ferment inside the bag. Usually happens prior to getting refrigerated it gets hot then the bacteria starts growing thus producing gasses that can’t escape. Always fun to put a knife in them as they do explode! I am sure I wouldn’t do that now as cheese is crazy expensive and I would also return it to the store of purchase. Mostly this happens to me in the states camping as temperatures vary when transporting food from one location to another.

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