Dairy products are susceptible to destabilization after production which can negatively impact shelf life. They are also some of the best incubators for bacterial growth due to the water, protein, sugars and minerals present. In process cheese applications, phosphates can hydrolyze and shorten the structure or network of protein, fat, and water. This will have an impact on maintaining firmness, melt, and stretch.

Phospate salts allow for the peptization of insoluble calcium in para-casein to sodium caseinate which helps extend shelf life. Sodium caseinate efficiently emulsifies the free fat and stabilizes the network during heat treatment. The heat treatment (pasteurization, retort, UHT) kills dangerous microorganisms which allows for the extended shelf life of process cheeses in comparison to natural cheeses.

A simple heat treatment can extend shelf life from days to weeks or months in good food safety level.