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Characterization of Clostridium spp. Isolated from Spoiled Processed Cheese Products

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Of 42 spoiled cheese spread products, 35 were found to harbor Clostridium spp. Typical signs of spoilage were gas production and off-odor. The identity was determined for about half of the isolates (n = 124) by Analytab Products (API), Biolog, the RiboPrinter System, 16S rDNA sequencing, cellular fatty acid analysis, or some combination of these. The majority of isolates were identified as Clostridium sporogenes (in 33% of products), but Clostridium cochlearium (in 12% of products) and Clostridium tyrobutyricum (in 2% of products) were also retrieved. Similarity analysis of the riboprint patterns for 21 isolates resulted in the identification of 10 ribogroups. A high degree of relatedness was observed between isolates of C. sporogenes originating from products produced 3 years apart, indicating a common and, over time, persistent source of infection. The spoilage potential of 11 well-characterized isolates and two culture collection strains was analyzed by inoculating shrimp cheese spread with single cultures and then storing them at 37°C. Tubes inoculated with C. tyrobutyricum did not show any visible signs of growth (e.g., coagulation, discoloration, gas formation) in the cheese spread. After 2 weeks of incubation, tubes inoculated with C. cochlearium or C. sporogenes showed gas-holes, syneresis with separation of coagulated casein and liquid, and a change in color of the cheese. The amount of CO2 produced by C. cochlearium strains was approximately one-third that produced by the majority of C. sporogenes strains. To our knowledge, this is the first study to isolate and identify C. cochlearium as a spoilage organism in cheese spread.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: SIK—The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Ideon Research Park, SE 223 70, Lund, Sweden

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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