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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Oct;90(10):4872-83.

Tracking spore-forming bacterial contaminants in fluid milk-processing systems.

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Milk Quality Improvement Program, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The presence of psychrotolerant Bacillus species and related spore formers (e.g., Paenibacillus spp.) in milk has emerged as a key biological obstacle in extending the shelf life of high-temperature, short-time pasteurized fluid milk beyond 14 d. A recently developed rpoB DNA sequence-based subtyping method was applied to characterize spoilage bacteria present in raw milk supplies for 2 processing plants, and to assess transmission of these organisms into pasteurized products. Thirty-nine raw milk samples and 11 pasteurized product samples were collected to represent the processing continuum from incoming truck loads of raw milk to packaged products. Milk samples were held at 6 degrees C for up to 16 d and plated for bacterial enumeration at various times throughout storage. Among the 88 bacterial isolates characterized, a total of 31 rpoB allelic types representing Bacillus and Paenibacillus spp. were identified, including 5 allelic types found in both raw milk and finished product samples. The presence of the same bacterial subtypes in raw and commercially pasteurized milk samples suggests that the raw milk supply represents an important source of these spoilage bacteria. Extension of the shelf life of high-temperature, short-time pasteurized fluid milk products will require elimination of these organisms from milk-processing systems.

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