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Int J Food Microbiol. 2009 Jun 1;132(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.02.026. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Tina wooden vat biofilm: a safe and highly efficient lactic acid bacteria delivering system in PDO Ragusano cheese making.

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1
UMR1253, Science et Technologie du Lait et de l'Oeuf, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Rennes, France.

Abstract

In the Sicilian PDO Ragusano cheese making, raw milk is placed in a wooden vat called a Tina. As no starter is added, lactic acid is produced by milk flora and flora released from the Tina biofilm. The aim of this work was to assess the safety and efficiency of this natural inoculation system. From 15 Tinas' biofilms, bacteria total counts varied from 10(3) to 10(6) CFU/cm(2), with the predominance of thermophilic lactic acid bacteria. Low counts of yeasts and moulds were found in a few Tinas. Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7 were totally absent, as assessed by conventional plating and the Bax detection system after enrichment, highlighting the safety of the system. From four Tinas out of the 15, micropieces of wood were observed by confocal and scanning electron microscopy. The biofilm entrapped in a matrix covered almost entirely the surface of the wood. Polysaccharides were detected in the four Tinas. In three of the latter, cocci were predominant in the ecosystem whereas in the other one, cocci, bacilli, yeasts and moulds were observed. Fifty litres of microfiltrated milk (<10 CFU/mL) were poured in the four Tinas for 10 min of contact. Enumeration of lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and enterococci were performed in the milk after contact. Depending on the Tina, from 5.10(4) to 10(6) CFU/mL of Streptococcus thermophilus were released into the milk, and from 10(4) to 10(5) CFU/mL of thermophilic lactobacilli. Spontaneous acidification after contact confirmed the high efficiency of biofilm lactic acid bacteria delivery.

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