Authors: FRANCESCA PEDONESE, CARLO D'ASCENZI, BEATRICE TORRACCA, CLIZIA ZINGONI, BARBARA TURCHI, FILIPPO FRATINI, ROBERTA NUVOLONI
Abstract: To evaluate growth and enterotoxin production of Staphylococcus aureus in raw milk caciotta, an Italian soft cheese, experimental cheesemaking trials were carried out with and without a commercial starter. Two different inocula of selected enterotoxin-producing S. aureus strains were tested: high (mean value 5.03 log CFU/mL of milk) and low (mean value 3.22 log CFU/mL of milk). Uninoculated cheeses with milk containing 2.15 log CFU/mL mean value of coagulase-positive staphylococci were also examined. With higher inocul a coagulase-positive staphylococci counts reached 7.57 log CFU/g without starter and had significantly higher values after the acidification phase than those with starter (below 6.5 log CFU/g). Using an enzyme immunoassay, enterotoxins were detected in cheeses both without and with starter, but the latter showed significantly lower photometrical absorbance values than the former. In low inoculum and uninoculated cheeses without starter, coagulase-positive staphylococci maximum values were between 5 and 6 log CFU/g, without enterotoxin production. To enhance the safety of this cheese it is fundamental to strictly prevent coagulase-positive staphylococci contamination and multiplication, particularly at the primary production level, and to correctly acidify the curd by starter cultures, which can substantially limit total coagulase-positive staphylococci increase.
Keywords: Caciotta cheese, enterotoxin production, experimental cheesemaking process, Staphylococcus aureus
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