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Microbiological Characterization of Randomly Selected Portuguese Raw Milk Cheeses with Reference to Food Safety

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Seventy raw milk cheeses made in different regions of Portugal, both hard and soft varieties, made with cow's, ewe's, or goat's milk or combinations of these, were sampled within their quoted shelf lives for microbiological safety. On the basis of the presence or numbers of Escherichia coli, E. coli O157, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes, cheeses were categorized as satisfactory, acceptable, unsatisfactory, or unacceptable and potentially hazardous. Twenty-two of the 70 cheeses were classified as satisfactory or acceptable. Thirty-seven of the cheeses were considered unsatisfactory because of the presence of E. coli, S. aureus, or both, while 11 of the cheeses were graded as unacceptable and potentially hazardous because of the presence of excessive numbers of S. aureus, E. coli, or L. monocytogenes and the presence of Salmonella in three of these. All cheeses graded as unacceptable and potentially hazardous were soft or semisoft cheeses made with ewe's and goat's milk, with the exception of two hard cheeses made with cow's milk. E. coli O157 was not detected in any of the cheeses. According to the present results, it seems that the presence or counts of pathogenic or indicator organisms in raw milk cheeses cannot be related to the processing conditions, milk type, or region of production.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Rua Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida, 4200 072 Porto, Portugal 2: Biostrument Lda, Centro Empresarial de Biotecnologia, Rua Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida, 4200 072 Porto, Portugal

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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