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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Apr;66(4):1334-9.

Effect of three factors in cheese production (pH, salt, and heat) on Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis viability.

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Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Low pH and salt are two factors contributing to the inactivation of bacterial pathogens during a 60-day curing period for cheese. The kinetics of inactivation for Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains ATCC 19698 and Dominic were measured at 20 degrees C under different pH and NaCl conditions commonly used in processing cheese. The corresponding D values (decimal reduction times; the time required to kill 1 log(10) concentration of bacteria) were measured. Also measured were the D values for heat-treated and nonheated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in 50 mM acetate buffer (pH 5.0, 2% [wt/vol] NaCl) and a soft white Hispanic-style cheese (pH 6.0, 2% [wt/vol] NaCl). Samples were removed at various intervals until no viable cells were detected using the radiometric culture method (BACTEC) for enumeration of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. NaCl had little or no effect on the inactivation of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis, and increasing NaCl concentrations were not associated with decreasing D values (faster killing) in the acetate buffer. Lower pHs, however, were significantly correlated with decreasing D values of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in the acetate buffer. The D values for heat-treated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis ATCC 19698 in the cheese were higher than those predicted by studies done in acetate buffer. The heat-treated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains had lower D values than the nonheated cells (faster killing) both in the acetate buffer (pH 5, 2% [wt/vol] NaCl) and in the soft white cheese. The D value for heat-treated M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis ATCC 19698 in the cheese (36.5 days) suggests that heat treatment of raw milk coupled with a 60-day curing period will inactivate about 10(3) cells of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis per ml.

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