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Some Chemical and Bacteriological Characteristics of Regional Cheeses from Asturias, Spain

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One hundred and one samples of six representative short-ripened cheeses (five homemade and one industrially manufactured) were collected over 1 year in several supermarkets in Asturias and analyzed for mesophilic plate counts, coliforms, enterobacteria, coagulase-positive staphylococci, the presence of species of Salmonella and Listeria, pH, moisture, NaCl, and aw. Chemical characteristics varied, largely depending on the type of cheese. The percentages of moisture and NaCl ranged from 36.11 to 48.91 and from 1.16 to 2.08 respectively. The aw values were between 0.95 and 0.99. Acidification was quite efficient, all cheeses having mean pH values between 4.56 and 5.39. None of the samples yielded Salmonella spp. Coagulase-positive staphylococci were detected in two cheeses, in one reaching levels up to 106 CFU/g. Listeria spp. contaminated 11.8% of the cheeses, with Listeria monocytogenes isolated from 8.91 % and Listeria innocua from 4.95% of the samples. The distribution of Listeria spp. varied largely depending on the type of cheese: 41% of the samples contaminated with L. monocytogenes were obtained from one type of cheese which had the lowest pH and NaCl values and the highest aw and moisture levels of the cheeses analyzed. However, L. monocytogenes was absent from another type of cheese, which showed intermediate chemical characteristics. High levels of coliforms and enterobacteria (4 to 5 log CFU/ml) were detected in the five homemade cheeses and were statistically associated with the presence of Listeria spp. and L. monocytogenes. Cold enrichment was unsuccessful for the recovery of Listeria spp. from the cheeses analyzed, while a combination of different enrichment methods resulted in the best procedure for detecting all positive samples. This study shows that L. monocytogenes and coagulase-positive staphylococci are present in short-ripened cheeses consumed in Asturias. Adequate measures to prevent contamination during cheese making will probably result in safer products.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias (CSIC), Crta. de Infiesto s/n 33300 Villaviciosa, Asturias, Spain

Publication date: May 1, 1996

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