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Food Microbiol. 2012 Sep;31(2):154-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Survey of raw milk cheeses for microbiological quality and prevalence of foodborne pathogens.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 338 Food Industry Complex, Lincoln, NE 68583-0919, USA.


Cheese may be manufactured in the United States using raw milk, provided the cheese is aged for at least 60 days at temperatures not less than 35°F (1.7°C). There is now increased concern among regulators regarding the safety of raw milk cheese due to the potential ability of foodborne pathogens to survive the manufacturing and aging processes. In this study, 41 raw milk cheeses were obtained from retail specialty shops, farmers' markets, and on-line sources. The cheeses were then analyzed for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Staphylococcus aureus, and Campylobacter. Aerobic plate counts (APC), coliform and yeast/mold counts were also performed. The results revealed that none of the enteric pathogens were detected in any of the samples tested. Five samples contained coliforms; two of those contained E. coli at less than 10(2) cfu/g. Three other cheese samples contained S. aureus. The APC and yeast-mold counts were within expected ranges. Based on the results obtained from these 41 raw milk cheeses, the 60-day aging rule for unpasteurized milk cheeses appears adequate for producing microbiologically safe products.

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