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Efficacy of Pasteurization Conditions for the Inactivation of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Milk

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Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, the causative agent of a chronic enteritis in ruminants (Johne's disease), has been linked to Crohn's disease in humans. This microorganism is shed by infected animals primarily in the feces but is also shed in the milk at much lower levels. Therefore, dairy products from infected animals may be one mode of transmission of this animal pathogen. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the holder and high-temperature short-time pasteurization standards on the destruction of M. paratuberculosis. One hundred eighty experiments were conducted in this study using a slug-flow pasteurizer unit and a laboratory scale pasteurizer unit. Ultrahigh-temperature milk was inoculated at two concentrations, 108 and 105 CFU/ml, with three different field strains of M. paratuberculosis. Five different time-temperature combinations were evaluated: 62.7°C for 30 min, 65.5°C for 16 s, 71.7°C for 15 s, 71.7°C for 20 s, and 74.4°C for 15 s. Three replicates of each experiment were run for the pasteurizer unit, time-temperature combination, and strain of M. paratuberculosis. Treatment of milk regardless of bacterial strain or pasteurizer unit resulted in an average 5.0- and 7.7-log kill for the low and high concentrations of inoculum, respectively. Milk treated for cheese production (65.5°C for 16 s) resulted in a much lower and more variable kill. Results from this study indicate that the current U. S. minimum standards for batch and high-temperature short-time pasteurization of grade A milk significantly reduced the survivability of M. paratuberculosis, but some bacteria survived subpasteurization heat treatment of milk used for cheese manufacture.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal Research Service, National Animal Disease Center, Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, 2300 Dayton Road, Ames, Iowa 50010, USA

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