Foodborne pathogens and microbiological characteristics of raw milk soft cheese produced and on retail sale in Brazil.Foodborne Pathog Dis 2009; 6(2):245-9FP
The consumption of raw milk soft cheeses (RMSC), which are typically manufactured in small dairy farms under unsatisfactory hygiene conditions, is common in Brazil. Due to these production characteristics, this type of cheese is a potential carrier of pathogenic microorganisms, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and enterotoxin-producing Staphylococcus spp. Considering these characteristics, in this work, we aimed to detect the presence of these pathogenic microorganisms in RMC and to evaluate their microbiological quality. Fifty-five samples of this product were collected from different noninspected commercial establishments and submitted to the enumeration of mesophilic aerobes (MA), total coliforms (TC), Escherichia coli, and coagulase-positive staphylococci (CPS), and detection of L. monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. All analyzed samples were negative for Salmonella spp. and L. monocytogenes. All samples presented counts of MA higher than 10(6) colony forming units/g (CFU/g; range, 3.0x10(6) to 4.0x10(9)). TC were present at levels between 1.0x10(3) and 1.8x10(8) CFU/g, and E. coli between 1.0x10(2) and 3.5x10(6) CFU/g. CPS were detected in 17 (30.9%) samples at levels higher than 10(4) CFU/g. These results confirm the poor microbiological quality of raw milk used in the manufacturing of RMC samples, and also the inadequate production conditions. Therefore, the evaluation of microbiological safety and quality of these products must be constantly reported to alert the official agencies about the significance of proper inspection.