Thursday, December 05, 2013

Oh Great, Toe Jam Brie - Just Stop It Already

Can't we focus on something else, like a cure for cancer?  Microbiologists have helped produce human cheese.  They've gathered bacterial swabs from various parts of the human body (armpits and toes are the best), grown the bacteria in petri dishes and then added it to milk to create cheese culture.

"So we had donors give us cotton swabs from different parts of their bodies and then I, in the lab, grew those cultures on petri dishes and then took the bacteria from the petri dishes and put it in the milk," [UCLA microbiologist Christina] Agapakis explains.

She says cheese fans might not realize that many of the bacteria types prized in traditional cheese-making are the same as those found on the human body.

"Between the toes, that's where you have lot of similarities with cheese bacteria," Agapakis says. "Toes were a prime location for swabbing. Armpits were another source we were interested in."

One reader of this story recalled a Kids in the Hall sketch where the four were gathered on kitchen chairs and asked where does cheese come from.  With that each took out a knife, scraped beneath their toenails and tossed the scrapings into a coffee tin.  Close enough.