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Int J Food Microbiol. 2014 May 2;177:136-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2014.02.019. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Traditional cheeses: rich and diverse microbiota with associated benefits.

Author information

1
INRA, Unité Recherches Fromagères, 20 Côte de Reyne, F-15000 Aurillac, France. Electronic address: Marie-Christine.Montel@clermont.inra.fr.
2
INRA, UR342 Technologie et Analyses Laitières, F-39801 Poligny, France.
3
Normandie Univ, France; UNICAEN, ABTE, F-14032 Caen, France.
4
INRA, Unité Recherches Fromagères, 20 Côte de Reyne, F-15000 Aurillac, France.
5
UNICAEN, ABTE, F-14032 Caen, France; EA3181/Université de Franche-Comté, 25030, Besançon, France.

Abstract

The risks and benefits of traditional cheeses, mainly raw milk cheeses, are rarely set out objectively, whence the recurrent confused debate over their pros and cons. This review starts by emphasizing the particularities of the microbiota in traditional cheeses. It then describes the sensory, hygiene, and possible health benefits associated with traditional cheeses. The microbial diversity underlying the benefits of raw milk cheese depends on both the milk microbiota and on traditional practices, including inoculation practices. Traditional know-how from farming to cheese processing helps to maintain both the richness of the microbiota in individual cheeses and the diversity between cheeses throughout processing. All in all more than 400 species of lactic acid bacteria, Gram and catalase-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts and moulds have been detected in raw milk. This biodiversity decreases in cheese cores, where a small number of lactic acid bacteria species are numerically dominant, but persists on the cheese surfaces, which harbour numerous species of bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Diversity between cheeses is due particularly to wide variations in the dynamics of the same species in different cheeses. Flavour is more intense and rich in raw milk cheeses than in processed ones. This is mainly because an abundant native microbiota can express in raw milk cheeses, which is not the case in cheeses made from pasteurized or microfiltered milk. Compared to commercial strains, indigenous lactic acid bacteria isolated from milk/cheese, and surface bacteria and yeasts isolated from traditional brines, were associated with more complex volatile profiles and higher scores for some sensorial attributes. The ability of traditional cheeses to combat pathogens is related more to native antipathogenic strains or microbial consortia than to natural non-microbial inhibitor(s) from milk. Quite different native microbiota can protect against Listeria monocytogenes in cheeses (in both core and surface) and on the wooden surfaces of traditional equipment. The inhibition seems to be associated with their qualitative and quantitative composition rather than with their degree of diversity. The inhibitory mechanisms are not well elucidated. Both cross-sectional and cohort studies have evidenced a strong association of raw-milk consumption with protection against allergic/atopic diseases; further studies are needed to determine whether such association extends to traditional raw-milk cheese consumption. In the future, the use of meta-omics methods should help to decipher how traditional cheese ecosystems form and function, opening the way to new methods of risk-benefit management from farm to ripened cheese.

KEYWORDS:

Diversity; Health benefits; Microbiota; Raw milk; Sensory benefits; Traditional cheeses

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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