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Food Microbiol. 2008 Apr;25(2):304-12. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Microbiological quality of retail cheeses made from raw, thermized or pasteurized milk in the UK.

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Health Protection Agency, Department of Gastrointestinal, Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, HPA Centre for Infections, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK.


Two studies of retail fresh, ripened and semi-hard cheeses made from raw, thermized or pasteurized milk were undertaken in the UK during 2004 and 2005 to determine the microbiological quality of these products. Using microbiological criteria in European Commission Recommendations 2004/24/EC and 2005/175/EC, 2% of both raw, thermized (37/1819 samples) and pasteurized (51/2618 samples) milk cheeses were of unsatisfactory quality. Raw or thermized milk cheeses were of unsatisfactory quality due to levels of Staphylococcus aureus at 10(4)cfu g(-1), Escherichia coli at 10(5)cfu g(-1), and/or Listeria monocytogenes at 10(2)cfu g(-1), whereas pasteurized milk cheeses were of unsatisfactory quality due to S. aureus at 10(3)cfu g(-1) and/or E. coli at 10(3)cfu g(-1). Salmonella was not detected in any samples. Cheeses were of unsatisfactory quality more frequently when sampled from premises rated as having little or no confidence in management and control systems, and stored/displayed at above 8 degrees C. Raw or thermized milk cheeses were also more likely to be of unsatisfactory quality when they were unripened types, and pasteurized milk cheeses when they were: semi-hard types; from specialist cheese shops or delicatessens; cut to order. These results emphasize the need for applying and maintaining good hygiene practices throughout the food chain to prevent contamination and/or bacterial growth. Labelling of cheeses with clear information on whether the cheese was prepared from raw milk also requires improvement.

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