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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Sep;67(9):4199-205.

Fate of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Swiss hard and semihard cheese manufactured from raw milk.

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  • 1Swiss Federal Dairy Research Station Liebefeld, 3003 Bern, Switzerland.


Raw milk was artificially contaminated with declumped cells of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis at a concentration of 10(4) to 10(5) CFU/ml and was used to manufacture model hard (Swiss Emmentaler) and semihard (Swiss Tisliter) cheese. Two different strains of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis were tested, and for each strain, two model hard and semihard cheeses were produced. The survival of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis cells was monitored over a ripening period of 120 days by plating out homogenized cheese samples onto 7H10-PANTA agar. In both the hard and the semihard cheeses, counts decreased steadily but slowly during cheese ripening. Nevertheless, viable cells could still be detected in 120-day cheese. D values were calculated at 27.8 days for hard and 45.5 days for semihard cheese. The most important factors responsible for the death of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in cheese were the temperatures applied during cheese manufacture and the low pH at the early stages of cheese ripening. Since the ripening period for these raw milk cheeses lasts at least 90 to 120 days, the D values found indicate that 10(3) to 10(4) cells of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis per g will be inactivated.

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