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1.  Dynamics of Bacterial Communities during the Ripening Process of Different Croatian Cheese Types Derived from Raw Ewe's Milk Cheeses 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80734.
Microbial communities play an important role in cheese ripening and determine the flavor and taste of different cheese types to a large extent. However, under adverse conditions human pathogens may colonize cheese samples during ripening and may thus cause severe outbreaks of diarrhoea and other diseases. Therefore in the present study we investigated the bacterial community structure of three raw ewe's milk cheese types, which are produced without the application of starter cultures during ripening from two production sites based on fingerprinting in combination with next generation sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. Overall a surprisingly high diversity was found in the analyzed samples and overall up to 213 OTU97 could be assigned. 20 of the major OTUs were present in all samples and include mostly lactic acid bacteria (LAB), mainly Lactococcus, and Enterococcus species. Abundance and diversity of these genera differed to a large extent between the 3 investigated cheese types and in response to the ripening process. Also a large number of non LAB genera could be identified based on phylogenetic alignments including mainly Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcacae. Some species belonging to these two families could be clearly assigned to species which are known as potential human pathogens like Staphylococcus saprophyticus or Salmonella spp. However, during cheese ripening their abundance was reduced. The bacterial genera, namely Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Leuconostoc, Bifidobacterium, Brevibacterium, Corynebacterium, Clostridium, Staphylococcus, Thermoanerobacterium, E. coli, Hafnia, Pseudomonas, Janthinobacterium, Petrotoga, Kosmotoga, Megasphaera, Macrococcus, Mannheimia, Aerococcus, Vagococcus, Weissella and Pediococcus were identified at a relative low level and only in selected samples. Overall the microbial composition of the used milk and the management of the production units determined the bacterial community composition for all cheese types to a large extend, also at the late time points of cheese ripening.
PMCID: PMC3835732  PMID: 24278315
2.  High-Throughput Sequencing for Detection of Subpopulations of Bacteria Not Previously Associated with Artisanal Cheeses 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(16):5717-5723.
Here, high-throughput sequencing was employed to reveal the highly diverse bacterial populations present in 62 Irish artisanal cheeses and, in some cases, associated cheese rinds. Using this approach, we revealed the presence of several genera not previously associated with cheese, including Faecalibacterium, Prevotella, and Helcococcus and, for the first time, detected the presence of Arthrobacter and Brachybacterium in goats' milk cheese. Our analysis confirmed many previously observed patterns, such as the dominance of typical cheese bacteria, the fact that the microbiota of raw and pasteurized milk cheeses differ, and that the level of cheese maturation has a significant influence on Lactobacillus populations. It was also noted that cheeses containing adjunct ingredients had lower proportions of Lactococcus species. It is thus apparent that high-throughput sequencing-based investigations can provide valuable insights into the microbial populations of artisanal foods.
PMCID: PMC3406138  PMID: 22685131
3.  Cross-sectional survey of salt content in cheese: a major contributor to salt intake in the UK 
BMJ Open  2014;4(8):e005051.
To investigate the salt (sodium chloride) content in cheese sold in UK supermarkets.
Study design
We carried out a cross-sectional survey in 2012, including 612 cheeses available in UK supermarkets.
The salt content (g/100 g) was collected from product packaging and nutrient information panels of cheeses available in the top seven retailers.
Salt content in cheese was high with a mean (±SD) of 1.7±0.58 g/100 g. There was a large variation in salt content between different types of cheeses and within the same type of cheese. On average, halloumi (2.71±0.34 g/100 g) and imported blue cheese (2.71±0.83 g/100 g) contained the highest amounts of salt and cottage cheese (0.55±0.14 g/100 g) contained the lowest amount of salt. Overall, among the 394 cheeses that had salt reduction targets, 84.5% have already met their respective Department of Health 2012 salt targets.
Cheddar and cheddar-style cheese is the most popular/biggest selling cheese in the UK and has the highest number of products in the analysis (N=250). On average, salt level was higher in branded compared with supermarket own brand cheddar and cheddar-style products (1.78±0.13 vs 1.72±0.14 g/100 g, p<0.01). Ninety per cent of supermarket own brand products met the 2012 target for cheddar and cheddar-style cheese compared with 73% of branded products (p=0.001).
Salt content in cheese in the UK is high. There is a wide variation in the salt content of different types of cheeses and even within the same type of cheese. Despite this, 84.5% of cheeses have already met their respective 2012 targets. These findings demonstrate that much larger reductions in the amount of salt added to cheese could be made and more challenging targets need to be set, so that the UK can continue to lead the world in salt reduction.
PMCID: PMC4139634  PMID: 25099933
4.  Surface Microflora of Four Smear-Ripened Cheeses 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(11):6489-6500.
The microbial composition of smear-ripened cheeses is not very clear. A total of 194 bacterial isolates and 187 yeast isolates from the surfaces of four Irish farmhouse smear-ripened cheeses were identified at the midpoint of ripening using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), repetitive sequence-based PCR, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing for identifying and typing the bacteria and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and mitochondrial DNA restriction fragment length polymorphism (mtDNA RFLP) analysis for identifying and typing the yeast. The yeast microflora was very uniform, and Debaryomyces hansenii was the dominant species in the four cheeses. Yarrowia lipolytica was also isolated in low numbers from one cheese. The bacteria were highly diverse, and 14 different species, Corynebacterium casei, Corynebacterium variabile, Arthrobacter arilaitensis, Arthrobacter sp., Microbacterium gubbeenense, Agrococcus sp. nov., Brevibacterium linens, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus equorum, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Micrococcus luteus, Halomonas venusta, Vibrio sp., and Bacillus sp., were identified on the four cheeses. Each cheese had a more or less unique microflora with four to nine species on its surface. However, two bacteria, C. casei and A. arilaitensis, were found on each cheese. Diversity at the strain level was also observed, based on the different PFGE patterns and mtDNA RFLP profiles of the dominant bacterial and yeast species. None of the ripening cultures deliberately inoculated onto the surface were reisolated from the cheeses. This study confirms the importance of the adventitious, resident microflora in the ripening of smear cheeses.
PMCID: PMC1287636  PMID: 16269673
5.  Characterization of the fungal microflora in raw milk and specialty cheeses of the province of Quebec 
Dairy Science & Technology  2011;92(5):455-468.
The cheese microbial ecosystem is complex, and the presence of non-starter adventitious microorganisms in milk may have an influence on the organoleptic characteristics of cheese. The aim of this study was to analyze the composition and diversity of the fungal flora of raw milk destined for cheesemaking from 19 dairy farms in Quebec and to monitor their evolution throughout ripening. Six hundred ten yeast and mold isolates were collected from raw milk and raw milk cheeses over a 9-month period. Based on the sequences of the rDNA ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region, 67% of the raw milk isolates were yeasts, which were assigned to 37 species across 11 genera, while 33% were molds, which were assigned to 33 species across 25 genera. A semi-quantitative analysis of the yeasts and molds in the raw milk from four farms was performed over a 5-month period. The composition and diversity of the fungal microflora were totally different for each farm, each of which had a unique species profile. To determine whether adventitious yeast strains from the milk could develop in raw milk cheese, a multilocus-sequence-typing (MLST) analysis was performed on 13 Issatchenkia orientalis (syn. Pichia kudriavzevii, anamorph: Candida krusei) isolates. The same MLST genotypes were identified for strains independently isolated from raw milk and raw milk cheese from a farm processing its own milk. This study contributes to the understanding of the natural fungal microflora of raw milk and suggests that non-starter yeasts and molds can transfer from raw milk to raw milk cheese and may influence cheese ripening.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13594-011-0051-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3478505  PMID: 23125908
Artisanal cheese; Fungi; Yeast; Molds; Candida krusei; Issatchenkia orientalis; Pichia kudriavzevii; Multilocus sequence typing; MLST; Non-starter yeasts and molds; 手工干酪; 真菌; 酵母; 霉菌; 多位点序列分型; 非发酵剂酵母和霉菌; 真菌群落
6.  Biogenic Amines in Italian Pecorino Cheese 
The quality of distinctive artisanal cheeses is closely associated with the territory of production and its traditions. Pedoclimatic characteristics, genetic autochthonous variations, and anthropic components create an environment so specific that it would be extremely difficult to reproduce elsewhere. Pecorino cheese is included in this sector of the market and is widely diffused in Italy (∼62.000t of production in 2010). Pecorino is a common name given to indicate Italian cheeses made exclusively from pure ewes’ milk characterized by a high content of fat matter and it is mainly produced in the middle and south of Italy by traditional procedures from raw or pasteurized milk. The microbiota plays a major role in the development of the organoleptic characteristics of the cheese but it can also be responsible for the accumulation of undesirable substances, such as biogenic amines (BA). Bacterial amino acid decarboxylase activity and BA content have to be investigated within the complex microbial community of raw milk cheese for different cheese technologies. The results emphasize the necessity of controlling the indigenous bacterial population responsible for high production of BA and the use of competitive adjunct cultures could be suggested. Several factors can contribute to the qualitative and quantitative profiles of BA’s in Pecorino cheese such as environmental hygienic conditions, pH, salt concentration, water activity, fat content, pasteurization of milk, decarboxylase microorganisms, starter cultures, temperature and time of ripening, storage, part of the cheese (core, edge), and the presence of cofactor (pyridoxal phosphate, availability of aminases and deaminases). In fact physico-chemical parameters seem to favor biogenic amine-positive microbiota; both of these environmental factors can easily be modulated, in order to control growth of undesirable microorganisms. Generally, the total content of BA’s in Pecorino cheeses can range from about 100–2400 mg/kg, with a prevalence of toxicologically important BA’s, tyramine and histamine. The presence of BA is becoming increasingly important to consumers and cheese-maker alike, due to the potential threats of toxicity to humans and consequent trade implications.
PMCID: PMC3347038  PMID: 22586425
Italian ewe cheese; microbial groups; biogenic amines
7.  Biodiversity of the Bacterial Flora on the Surface of a Smear Cheese 
The bacteria on the surface of a farmhouse smear-ripened cheese at four stages of ripening (4, 16, 23, and 37 days) from inoculated (i.e., deliberately inoculated with Brevibacterium linens BL2) and noninoculated (not deliberately inoculated with B. linens BL2) cheese were investigated. The results show that, contrary to accepted belief, B. linens is not a significant member of the surface flora of smear cheese and no microbial succession of species occurred during the ripening of the cheeses. Of 400 isolates made, 390 were lactate-utilizing coryneforms and 10 were coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp. A detailed analysis of the coryneforms was undertaken using phenotypic analysis, molecular fingerprinting, chemotaxonomic techniques, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. DNA banding profiles (ramdom amplified polymorphic DNA [RAPD]-PCR) of all the coryneform isolates showed large numbers of clusters. However, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of the isolates from the cheeses showed that all isolates within a cluster and in many contiguous clusters were the same. The inoculated and noninoculated cheeses were dominated by single clones of novel species of Corynebacterium casei (50.2% of isolates), Corynebacterium mooreparkense (26% of isolates), and Microbacterium gubbeenense (12.8% of isolates). In addition, five of the isolates from the inoculated cheese were Corynebacterium flavescens. Thirty-seven strains were not identified but many had similar PFGE patterns, indicating that they were the same species. C. mooreparkense and C. casei grew at pH values below 4.9 in the presence of 8% NaCl, while M. gubbeenense did not grow below pH 5.8 in the presence of 5 to 10% NaCl. B. linens BL2 was not recovered from the inoculated cheese because it was inhibited by all the Staphylococcus isolates and many of the coryneforms. It was concluded that within a particular batch of cheese there was significant bacterial diversity in the microflora on the surface.
PMCID: PMC126715  PMID: 11823224
8.  Population dynamics of two antilisterial cheese surface consortia revealed by temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:74.
Surface contamination of smear cheese by Listeria spp. is of major concern for the industry. Complex smear ecosystems have been shown to harbor antilisterial potential but the microorganisms and mechanisms involved in the inhibition mostly remain unclear, and are likely related to complex interactions than to production of single antimicrobial compounds. Bacterial biodiversity and population dynamics of complex smear ecosystems exhibiting antilisterial properties in situ were investigated by Temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TTGE), a culture independent technique, for two microbial consortia isolated from commercial Raclette type cheeses inoculated with defined commercial ripening cultures (F) or produced with an old-young smearing process (M).
TTGE revealed nine bacterial species common to both F and M consortia, but consortium F exhibited a higher diversity than consortium M, with thirteen and ten species, respectively. Population dynamics were studied after application of the consortia on fresh-produced Raclette cheeses. TTGE analyses revealed a similar sequential development of the nine species common to both consortia. Beside common cheese surface bacteria (Staphylococcus equorum, Corynebacterium spp., Brevibacterium linens, Microbacterium gubbeenense, Agrococcus casei), the two consortia contained marine lactic acid bacteria (Alkalibacterium kapii, Marinilactibacillus psychrotolerans) that developed early in ripening (day 14 to 20), shortly after the growth of staphylococci (day 7). A decrease of Listeria counts was observed on cheese surface inoculated at day 7 with 0.1-1 × 102 CFU cm-2, when cheeses were smeared with consortium F or M. Listeria counts went below the detection limit of the method between day 14 and 28 and no subsequent regrowth was detected over 60 to 80 ripening days. In contrast, Listeria grew to high counts (105 CFU cm-2) on cheeses smeared with a defined surface culture.
This work reports the first population dynamics study of complex smear ecosystems exhibiting in situ antilisterial activity. TTGE revealed the presence of marine lactic acid bacteria that are likely related to the strong Listeria inhibition, as their early development in the smear occurred simultaneously with a decrease in Listeria cell count.
PMCID: PMC2907837  PMID: 20222967
9.  Monitoring Bacterial Communities in Raw Milk and Cheese by Culture-Dependent and -Independent 16S rRNA Gene-Based Analyses▿  
The diversity and dynamics of bacterial populations in Saint-Nectaire, a raw-milk, semihard cheese, were investigated using a dual culture-dependent and direct molecular approach combining single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) fingerprinting and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. The dominant clones, among 125 16S rRNA genes isolated from milk, belonged to members of the Firmicutes (58% of the total clones) affiliated mainly with the orders Clostridiales and the Lactobacillales, followed by the phyla Proteobacteria (21.6%), Actinobacteria (16.8%), and Bacteroidetes (4%). Sequencing the 16S rRNA genes of 126 milk isolates collected from four culture media revealed the presence of 36 different species showing a wider diversity in the Gammaproteobacteria phylum and Staphylococcus genus than that found among clones. In cheese, a total of 21 species were obtained from 170 isolates, with dominant species belonging to the Lactobacillales and subdominant species affiliated with the Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes (Chryseobacterium sp.), or Gammaproteobacteria (Stenotrophomonas sp.). Fingerprinting DNA isolated from milk by SSCP analysis yielded complex patterns, whereas analyzing DNA isolated from cheese resulted in patterns composed of a single peak which corresponded to that of lactic acid bacteria. SSCP fingerprinting of mixtures of all colonies harvested from plate count agar supplemented with crystal violet and vancomycin showed good potential for monitoring the subdominant Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes (Flavobacteria) organisms in milk and cheese. Likewise, analyzing culturable subcommunities from cheese-ripening bacterial medium permitted assessment of the diversity of halotolerant Actinobacteria and Staphylococcus organisms. Direct and culture-dependent approaches produced complementary information, thus generating a more accurate view of milk and cheese microbial ecology.
PMCID: PMC1828836  PMID: 17259356
10.  Isolation and Identification of the Microbiota of Danish Farmhouse and Industrially Produced Surface-Ripened Cheeses 
Microbial Ecology  2012;65(3):602-615.
For studying the microbiota of four Danish surface-ripened cheeses produced at three farmhouses and one industrial dairy, both a culture-dependent and culture-independent approach were used. After dereplication of the initial set of 433 isolates by (GTG)5-PCR fingerprinting, 217 bacterial and 25 yeast isolates were identified by sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene or the D1/D2 domain of the 26S rRNA gene, respectively. At the end of ripening, the cheese core microbiota of the farmhouse cheeses consisted of the mesophilic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) starter cultures Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis and Leuconostoc mesenteorides as well as non-starter LAB including different Lactobacillus spp. The cheese from the industrial dairy was almost exclusively dominated by Lb. paracasei. The surface bacterial microbiota of all four cheeses were dominated by Corynebacterium spp. and/or Brachybacterium spp. Brevibacterium spp. was found to be subdominant compared to other bacteria on the farmhouse cheeses, and no Brevibacterium spp. was found on the cheese from the industrial dairy, even though B. linens was used as surface-ripening culture. Moreover, Gram-negative bacteria identified as Alcalignes faecalis and Proteus vulgaris were found on one of the farmhouse cheeses. The surface yeast microbiota consisted primarily of one dominating species for each cheese. For the farmhouse cheeses, the dominant yeast species were Yarrowia lipolytica, Geotrichum spp. and Debaryomyces hansenii, respectively, and for the cheese from the industrial dairy, D. hansenii was the dominant yeast species. Additionally, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis revealed that Streptococcus thermophilus was present in the farmhouse raw milk cheese analysed in this study. Furthermore, DGGE bands corresponding to Vagococcus carniphilus, Psychrobacter spp. and Lb. curvatus on the cheese surfaces indicated that these bacterial species may play a role in cheese ripening.
PMCID: PMC3621994  PMID: 23224222
11.  Evaluation of Freeze-Dried Kefir Coculture as Starter in Feta-Type Cheese Production 
The use of freeze-dried kefir coculture as a starter in the production of feta-type cheese was investigated. Maturation of the produced cheese at 4°C was monitored for up to 70 days, and the effects of the starter culture, the salting method, and the ripening process on quality characteristics were studied. The use of kefir coculture as a starter led to increased lactic acid concentrations and decreased pH values in the final product associated with significantly higher conversion rates compared to salted rennet cheese. Determination of bacterial diversity at the end of the ripening process in salted kefir and rennet cheeses by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis technology, based on both DNA and RNA analyses, suggested a potential species-specific inhibition of members of the genera Staphylococcus and Psychrobacter by kefir coculture. The main active microbial associations in salted kefir cheese appeared to be members of the genera Pseudomonas and Lactococcus, while in salted rennet cheese, Oxalobacteraceae, Janthinobacterium, Psychrobacter, and Pseudomonas species were noted. The effect of the starter culture on the production of aroma-related compounds responsible for cheese flavor was also studied by the solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry technique. Kefir coculture also appeared to extend the shelf life of unsalted cheese. Spoilage of kefir cheese was observed on the 9th and 20th days of preservation at 10 and 5°C, respectively, while spoilage in the corresponding rennet cheese was detected on the 7th and 16th days. Microbial counts during preservation of both types of unsalted cheese increased steadily and reached similar levels, with the exception of staphylococci, which were significantly lower in unsalted kefir cheese. All types of cheese produced with kefir as a starter were approved and accepted by the panel during the preliminary sensory evaluation compared to commercial feta-type cheese.
PMCID: PMC1563647  PMID: 16957238
12.  Essential oil of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) antibacterial activity on Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in culture media and Iranian white cheese 
Background and Objectives
In this study, the antibacterial effect of essential oil of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) on Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli was evaluated in culture media and Iranian white cheese.
Materials and Methods
The tarragon essential oil (EO) obtained by the steam distillation method and its antibacterial activity was evaluated in 96-well microtiter plates containing brain heart infusion broth. The enumeration of S. aureus and E. coli in cheese samples were carried out on the following media: Baired parker agar for S.aureus, incubated at 37°C for 24 h; and MacConkey sorbitol agar for E. coli, incubated at 37°C for 24 h. Iranian white cheese was produced from fresh and whole pasteurized cow milk (2.5%). Bacteria (103 cfu/mL) were inoculated to different batches. Cheese was treated with different concentrations of EO (15 and 1500 µg/mL) and separated into four parts in an equal manner. The sensory evaluation was done by a panel of four judges.
According to the results obtained, minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) for E. coli and S. aureus were 2500 and 1250 µg/mL, respectively. Also, minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) for the mentioned microorganisms were 5000 and 2500 µg/mL, respectively. All the EO concentrations for each bacteria result in reducing bacterial count of cheese samples compared to control (P<0.05). Also, with increasing concentration of EO in cheese samples, the bacterial count was reduced further (P<0.05).
Based on our findings, tarragon essential oil has antibacterial effect on two important pathogen bacteria (S. aureus and E. coli) and can be applied as a preservative in foods such as cheese.
PMCID: PMC3391558  PMID: 22783458
Tarragon; essential oil; antibacterial effect; Staphylococcus aureus; Escherichia coli; cheese
13.  Variability of Bacterial Biofilms of the “Tina” Wood Vats Used in the Ragusano Cheese-Making Process▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(21):6980-6987.
Ragusano cheese is a “protected denomination of origin” cheese made in the Hyblean region of Sicily from raw milk using traditional wooden tools, without starter. To explore the Ragusano bacterial ecosystem, molecular fingerprinting was conducted at different times during the ripening and biofilms from the wooden vats called “tinas” were investigated. Raw milks collected at two farm sites, one on the mountain and one at sea level, were processed to produce Ragusano cheese. Raw milk, curd before and after cooking, curd at stretching time (cheese 0 time), and cheese samples (4 and 7 months) were analyzed by PCR-temporal temperature gel electrophoresis (PCR-TTGE) and by classical enumeration microbiology. With the use of universal primers, PCR-TTGE revealed many differences between the raw milk profiles, but also notable common bands identified as Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, and Enterococcus faecium. After the stretching, TTGE profiles revealed three to five dominant species only through the entire process of ripening. In the biofilms of the two tinas used, one to five species were detected, S. thermophilus being predominant in both. Biofilms from five other tinas were also analyzed by PCR-TTGE, PCR-denaturating gradient gel electrophoresis, specific PCR tests, and sequencing, confirming the predominance of lactic acid bacteria (S. thermophilus, L. lactis, and L. delbrueckii subsp. lactis) and the presence of a few high-GC-content species, like coryneform bacteria. The spontaneous acidification of raw milks before and after contact with the five tinas was followed in two independent experiments. The lag period before acidification can be up to 5 h, depending on the raw milk and the specific tina, highlighting the complexity of this natural inoculation system.
PMCID: PMC2074957  PMID: 17720831
14.  Detection and Growth of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli in Soft Ripened Cheese1 
Applied Microbiology  1975;29(2):179-185.
The organism most frequently encountered during the 1971 outbreak of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) in soft ripened cheese was a strain that failed to ferment lactose broth within 48 h. Since existing methods for E. coli are dependent upon fermentation of this sugar, such strains can remain undetected, particularly when present in low numbers. Therefore, a cultural testing procedure was developed to insure isolation of both lactose-positive and -negative strains. This method used GN broth, modified by substituting lactose and arabinose for glucose and D-mannitol, as an enrichment medium. MacConkey agar, used as a plating medium, was modified by substituting arabinose for half the lactose. The cultural procedure was used in conjunction with a fluorescent antibody method to screen cheese for the presence of presumptive enteropathogenic E. coli. Suspected isolates were subjected to further biochemical and serological testing and identified as members of specific serogroups. These methods were used for the analysis of over 2,000 wheels of cheese; over 10% of the samples tested were found to contain strains belonging to six different serogroups associated with diarrheal diseases. No attempt was made to confirm pathogenicity by in vivo tests. Enumeration of E. coli in cheese showed that numbers increased during storage. Cheese with less than 10 organisms/g initially increased to over 105 at room temperature and over 103 at 4 C within 10 days. With higher initial counts, levels up to 109 were found at 4 C. These studies showed that the high levels of E. coli encountered in these products cannot be used as a direct indicator of post-processing contamination.
PMCID: PMC186941  PMID: 1090249
15.  Reducing Biogenic-Amine-Producing Bacteria, Decarboxylase Activity, and Biogenic Amines in Raw Milk Cheese by High-Pressure Treatments 
Biogenic amines may reach concentrations of public health concern in some cheeses. To minimize biogenic amine buildup in raw milk cheese, high-pressure treatments of 400 or 600 MPa for 5 min were applied on days 21 and 35 of ripening. On day 60, counts of lactic acid bacteria, enterococci, and lactobacilli were 1 to 2 log units lower in cheeses treated at 400 MPa and 4 to 6 log units lower in cheeses treated at 600 MPa than in control cheese. At that time, aminopeptidase activity was 16 to 75% lower in cheeses treated at 400 MPa and 56 to 81% lower in cheeses treated at 600 MPa than in control cheese, while the total free amino acid concentration was 35 to 53% higher in cheeses treated at 400 MPa and 3 to 15% higher in cheeses treated at 600 MPa, and decarboxylase activity was 86 to 96% lower in cheeses treated at 400 MPa and 93 to 100% lower in cheeses treated at 600 MPa. Tyramine, putrescine, and cadaverine were the most abundant amines in control cheese. The total biogenic amine concentration on day 60, which reached a maximum of 1.089 mg/g dry matter in control cheese, was 27 to 33% lower in cheeses treated at 400 MPa and 40 to 65% lower in cheeses treated at 600 MPa. On day 240, total biogenic amines attained a concentration of 3.690 mg/g dry matter in control cheese and contents 11 to 45% lower in cheeses treated at 400 MPa and 73 to 76% lower in cheeses treated at 600 MPa. Over 80% of the histidine and 95% of the tyrosine had been converted into histamine and tyramine in control cheese by day 60. Substrate depletion played an important role in the rate of biogenic amine buildup, becoming a limiting factor in the case of some amino acids.
PMCID: PMC3568586  PMID: 23241980
16.  Effect of Three Factors in Cheese Production (pH, Salt, and Heat) on Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Viability 
Low pH and salt are two factors contributing to the inactivation of bacterial pathogens during a 60-day curing period for cheese. The kinetics of inactivation for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains ATCC 19698 and Dominic were measured at 20°C under different pH and NaCl conditions commonly used in processing cheese. The corresponding D values (decimal reduction times; the time required to kill 1 log10 concentration of bacteria) were measured. Also measured were the D values for heat-treated and nonheated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in 50 mM acetate buffer (pH 5.0, 2% [wt/vol] NaCl) and a soft white Hispanic-style cheese (pH 6.0, 2% [wt/vol] NaCl). Samples were removed at various intervals until no viable cells were detected using the radiometric culture method (BACTEC) for enumeration of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. NaCl had little or no effect on the inactivation of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis, and increasing NaCl concentrations were not associated with decreasing D values (faster killing) in the acetate buffer. Lower pHs, however, were significantly correlated with decreasing D values of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in the acetate buffer. The D values for heat-treated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis ATCC 19698 in the cheese were higher than those predicted by studies done in acetate buffer. The heat-treated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains had lower D values than the nonheated cells (faster killing) both in the acetate buffer (pH 5, 2% [wt/vol] NaCl) and in the soft white cheese. The D value for heat-treated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis ATCC 19698 in the cheese (36.5 days) suggests that heat treatment of raw milk coupled with a 60-day curing period will inactivate about 103 cells of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis per ml.
PMCID: PMC91989  PMID: 10742208
17.  Behavior of Different Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Serotypes in Various Experimentally Contaminated Raw-Milk Cheeses 
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an important cause of food-borne illness. The public health implication of the presence of STEC in dairy products remains unclear. Knowledge of STEC behavior in cheeses would help to evaluate the human health risk. The aim of our study was to observe the growth and survival of experimentally inoculated STEC strains in raw-milk cheeses manufactured and ripened according to five technological schemes: blue-type cheese, uncooked pressed cheese with long ripening and with short ripening steps, cooked cheese, and lactic cheese. Cheeses were contaminated with different STEC serotypes (O157:H7, O26:H11, O103:H2, and O145:H28) at the milk preparation stage. STEC growth and survival were monitored on selective media during the entire manufacturing process. STEC grew (2 to 3 log10 CFU · g−1) in blue-type cheese and the two uncooked pressed cheeses during the first 24 h of cheese making. Then, STEC levels progressively decreased in cheeses that were ripened for more than 6 months. In cooked cheese and in lactic cheese with a long acidic coagulation step (pH < 4.5), STEC did not grow. Their levels decreased after the cooking step in the cooked cheese and after the coagulation step in the lactic cheese, but STEC was still detectable at the end of ripening and storage. A serotype effect was found: in all cheeses studied, serotype O157:H7 grew less strongly and was less persistent than the others serotypes. This study improves knowledge of the behavior of different STEC serotypes in various raw-milk cheeses.
PMCID: PMC3536096  PMID: 23087038
18.  Quantitative Detection of Corynebacterium casei in Cheese by Real-Time PCR▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2006;72(11):6972-6979.
The flora on the surface of smear-ripened cheeses is composed of numerous species of bacteria and yeasts that contribute to the production of the desired organoleptic properties. Due to the absence of selective media, it is very difficult to quantify cheese surface bacteria, and, consequently, the ecology of the cheese surface microflora has not been extensively investigated. We developed a SYBR green I real-time PCR method to quantify Corynebacterium casei, a major species of smear-ripened cheeses, using primers designed to target the 16S rRNA gene. It was possible to recover C. casei genomic DNA from the cheese matrix with nearly the same yield that C. casei genomic DNA is recovered from cells recovered by centrifugation from liquid cultures. Quantification was linear over a range from 105 to 1010 CFU per g of cheese. The specificity of the assay was demonstrated with DNA from species related to C. casei and from other bacteria and yeasts belonging to the cheese flora. Nine commercial cheeses were analyzed by real-time PCR, and six of them were found to contain more than 105 CFU equivalents of C. casei per g. In two of them, the proportion of C. casei in the total bacterial flora was nearly 40%. The presence of C. casei in these samples was further confirmed by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and by a combined approach consisting of plate counting and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We concluded that SYBR green I real-time PCR may be used as a reliable species-specific method for quantification of bacteria from the surface of cheeses.
PMCID: PMC1636138  PMID: 16950905
19.  The influence of ripening period length and season on the microbiological parameters of a traditional Brazilian cheese 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2013;44(3):743-749.
The ripening process of Serro Minas cheese, one of the most popular cheeses produced with raw milk in Brazil, was studied over the course of 60 days of ripening during dry and rainy seasons. Brazilian legislation prohibits the production of cheese from raw milk unless it was submitted to a maturation period greater than 60 days. However Minas Serro cheese is sold within a few days of ripening. A total of 100 samples of Serro cheese were obtained from five farms; 50 samples were collected during the dry season (winter in Brazil) and 50 samples were collected during the rainy season (summer in Brazil). From each farm, ten cheeses were collected during each season after two days of ripening. Our results showed high levels of total and fecal coliforms at the beginning of the ripening period (approximately 4 Log MPN/g with 3 days of ripening) that decreased with 60 days of ripening reaching almost 1.5 Log MPN/g. Contamination by coagulase-positive staphylococci was reduced by the end of the ripening period. Salmonella spp. was not detected. The staphylococcal enterotoxins B and C were detected in 1% and 4% of the cheeses, respectively, after 30 days of ripening. These results suggest that the ripening process was not effective in eliminating staphylococcal enterotoxins from the cheese. However, none of the investigated strains of Staphylococcus spp. isolated from Serro cheese produced enterotoxins A, B, C or D. The high pathogen and coliform levels at the beginning of the ripening process for the cheese produced during both seasons indicate the need for improvement of the sanitation of the manufacturing conditions.
PMCID: PMC3910183  PMID: 24516419
traditional Minas cheese; ripening; total and fecal coliforms; coagulase-positive staphylococci; staphylococcal enterotoxins
20.  Persistence of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis during Manufacture and Ripening of Cheddar Cheese 
Model Cheddar cheeses were prepared from pasteurized milk artificially contaminated with high 104 to 105 CFU/ml) and low (101 to 102 CFU/ml) inocula of three different Mycobacterium paratuberculosis strains. A reference strain, NCTC 8578, and two strains (806PSS and 796PSS) previously isolated from pasteurized milk for retail sale were investigated in this study. The manufactured Cheddar cheeses were similar in pH, salt, moisture, and fat composition to commercial Cheddar. The survival of M. paratuberculosis cells was monitored over a 27-week ripening period by plating homogenized cheese samples onto HEYM agar medium supplemented with the antibiotics vancomycin, amphotericin B, and nalidixic acid without a decontamination step. A concentration effect was observed in M. paratuberculosis numbers between the inoculated milk and the 1-day old cheeses for each strain. For all manufactured cheeses, a slow gradual decrease in M. paratuberculosis CFU in cheese was observed over the ripening period. In all cases where high levels (>3.6 log10) of M. paratuberculosis were present in 1-day cheeses, the organism was culturable after the 27-week ripening period. The D values calculated for strains 806PSS, 796PSS, and NCTC 8578 were 107, 96, and 90 days, respectively. At low levels of contamination, M. paratuberculosis was only culturable from 27-week-old cheese spiked with strain 806PSS. M. paratuberculosis was recovered from the whey fraction in 10 of the 12 manufactured cheeses. Up to 4% of the initial M. paratuberculosis load was recovered in the culture-positive whey fractions at either the high or low initial inoculum.
PMCID: PMC492420  PMID: 15294829
21.  Retail Survey of Brazilian Milk and Minas Frescal Cheese and a Contaminated Dairy Plant To Establish Prevalence, Relatedness, and Sources of Listeria monocytogenes Isolates▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(15):4954-4961.
A study was designed to recover Listeria monocytogenes from pasteurized milk and Minas frescal cheese (MFC) sampled at retail establishments (REs) and to identify the contamination source(s) of these products in the corresponding dairy processing plant. Fifty milk samples (9 brands) and 55 MFC samples (10 brands) were tested from REs located in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. All milk samples and 45 samples from 9 of 10 MFC brands tested negative for L. monocytogenes; however, “brand F” of MFC obtained from REs 119 and 159 tested positive. Thus, the farm/plant that produced brand F MFC was sampled; all samples from the milking parlor tested negative for L. monocytogenes, whereas several sites within the processing plant and the MFC samples tested positive. All 344 isolates recovered from retail MFC, plant F MFC, and plant F environmental samples were serotype 1/2a and displayed the same AscI or ApaI fingerprints. Since these results established that the storage coolers served as the contamination source of the MFC, plant F was closed so that corrective renovations could be made. Following renovation, samples from sites that previously tested positive for the pathogen were collected from the processing environment and from MFC on multiple visits; all tested negative for L. monocytogenes. In addition, on subsequent visits to REs 159 and 119, all MFC samples tested negative for the pathogen. Studies are ongoing to quantify the prevalence, levels, and types of L. monocytogenes in MFC and associated processing plants to lessen the likelihood of listeriosis in Brazil.
PMCID: PMC2519366  PMID: 18502929
22.  Methods for improved recovery of Listeria monocytogenes from cheese. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1988;54(11):2643-2649.
Method of homogenization (Waring blender versus stomacher), type of diluent (tryptose broth [TB] versus aqueous 2% trisodium citrate), and temperature of diluent (20 versus 40 degrees C) were compared for recovery of Listeria monocytogenes from freshly made and ripened Colby cheese. By using direct plating on McBride listeria agar, significantly higher numbers of L. monocytogenes were recovered when cheese samples were (i) homogenized for 2 min with the blender rather than the stomacher (P less than 0.01), (ii) diluted in trisodium citrate rather than TB (P less than 0.01), and (iii) diluted in diluents at 40 rather than 20 degrees C (P less than 0.05). Based on these results, a new diluent/enrichment medium was developed by adding 2% trisodium citrate to TB (TBC). Despite superior results with the blender, biosafety concerns led to use of the stomacher for homogenization of cheese samples; hence, the stomaching time was increased to 3 min. Results obtained by direct plating indicated that recovery of L. monocytogenes from Colby cheese and from curd samples taken during manufacture of brick cheese increased when samples were diluted 1:10 in TBC at 45 degrees C and stomached for 3 min, as compared with similarly treated samples diluted in TB at 25 degrees C. A similar comparison of both diluents for recovery of L. monocytogenes from cold-pack cheese food yielded bacterial counts which were not significantly different. Recovery of L. monocytogenes from cold-enriched (at 4 degrees C for up to 8 weeks) samples of Colby cheese and cold-pack cheese food was generally similar for samples homogenized in TBC or TB.
PMCID: PMC204349  PMID: 3145706
23.  Biodiversity of Bacterial Ecosystems in Traditional Egyptian Domiati Cheese▿  
Bacterial biodiversity occurring in traditional Egyptian soft Domiati cheese was studied by PCR-temporal temperature gel electrophoresis (TTGE) and PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Bands were identified using a reference species database (J.-C. Ogier et al., Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70:5628-5643, 2004); de novo bands having nonidentified migration patterns were identified by DNA sequencing. Results reveal a novel bacterial profile and extensive bacterial biodiversity in Domiati cheeses, as reflected by the numerous bands present in TTGE and DGGE patterns. The dominant lactic acid bacteria (LAB) identified were as follows: Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactococcus garvieae, Aerococcus viridans, Lactobacillus versmoldensis, Pediococcus inopinatus, and Lactococcus lactis. Frequent non-LAB species included numerous coagulase-negative staphylococci, Vibrio spp., Kocuria rhizophila, Kocuria kristinae, Kocuria halotolerans, Arthrobacter spp./Brachybacterium tyrofermentans. This is the first time that the majority of these species has been identified in Domiati cheese. Nearly all the dominant and frequent bacterial species are salt tolerant, and several correspond to known marine bacteria. As Domiati cheese contains 5.4 to 9.5% NaCl, we suggest that these bacteria are likely to have an important role in the ripening process. This first systematic study of the microbial composition of Domiati cheeses reveals great biodiversity and evokes a role for marine bacteria in determining cheese type.
PMCID: PMC1828670  PMID: 17189434
24.  Review: elimination of bacteriophages in whey and whey products 
As the cheese market faces strong international competition, the optimization of production processes becomes more important for the economic success of dairy companies. In dairy productions, whey from former cheese batches is frequently re-used to increase the yield, to improve the texture and to increase the nutrient value of the final product. Recycling of whey cream and particulated whey proteins is also routinely performed. Most bacteriophages, however, survive pasteurization and may re-enter the cheese manufacturing process. There is a risk that phages multiply to high numbers during the production. Contamination of whey samples with bacteriophages may cause problems in cheese factories because whey separation often leads to aerosol-borne phages and thus contamination of the factory environment. Furthermore, whey cream or whey proteins used for recycling into cheese matrices may contain thermo-resistant phages. Drained cheese whey can be contaminated with phages as high as 109 phages mL-1. When whey batches are concentrated, phage titers can increase significantly by a factor of 10 hindering a complete elimination of phages. To eliminate the risk of fermentation failure during recycling of whey, whey treatments assuring an efficient reduction of phages are indispensable. This review focuses on inactivation of phages in whey by thermal treatment, ultraviolet (UV) light irradiation, and membrane filtration. Inactivation by heat is the most common procedure. However, application of heat for inactivation of thermo-resistant phages in whey is restricted due to negative effects on the functional properties of native whey proteins. Therefore an alternative strategy applying combined treatments should be favored – rather than heating the dairy product at extreme temperature/time combinations. By using membrane filtration or UV treatment in combination with thermal treatment, phage numbers in whey can be reduced sufficiently to prevent subsequent phage accumulations.
PMCID: PMC3712493  PMID: 23882262
bacteriophages; dairy technology; whey recycling; inactivation; resistance
25.  Bacterial Community Dynamics during Production of Registered Designation of Origin Salers Cheese as Evaluated by 16S rRNA Gene Single-Strand Conformation Polymorphism Analysis 
Microbial dynamics during processing and ripening of traditional cheeses such as registered designation of origin Salers cheese, an artisanal cheese produced in France, play an important role in the elaboration of sensory qualities. The aim of the present study was to obtain a picture of the dynamics of the microbial ecosystem of RDO Salers cheese by using culture-independent methods. This included DNA extraction, PCR, and single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. Bacterial and high-GC% gram-positive bacterial primers were used to amplify V2 or V3 regions of the 16S rRNA gene. SSCP patterns revealed changes during the manufacturing of the cheese. Patterns of the ecosystems of cheeses that were provided by three farmers were also quite different. Cloning and sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene revealed sequences related to lactic acid bacteria (Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Enterococcus faecium, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus pentosus), which were predominant during manufacturing and ripening. Bacteria belonging to the high-GC% gram-positive group (essentially corynebacteria) were found by using specific primers. The present molecular approach can effectively describe the ecosystem of artisanal dairy products.
PMCID: PMC165180  PMID: 12839752

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