Rsearch – Predicting and Modelling the Growth of Potentially Pathogenic Bacteria in Coalho Cheese

Journal of Food Protection

Coalho is a semihard medium- to high-moisture cheese produced in various states in the northeastern region of Brazil. This study was conducted to predict the growth kinetics (maximum growth rate, Grmax) of Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus using the ComBase predictor with various combinations of temperature, pH, and water activity (aw) in commercial Coalho cheese samples. The growth of two antibiotic-resistant derivative strains of L. monocytogenes (parental strains ATCC 19115 and ATCC 7644) and S. aureus (parental strains ATCC 13565 and ATCC 19095) was measured in commercial Coalho cheese samples during 14 days of storage as a function of the initial contamination level (3 and 5 log CFU/g) and storage temperature (7.5 and 12°C). The highest Grmax values predicted by ComBase under the various conditions of temperature, pH, and aw were for L. monocytogenes (0.006 to 0.065 log CFU/g/h) and S. aureus (0.003 to 0.048 log CFU/g/h). The Grmax values predicted by ComBase for E. coli and Salmonella were 0.007 to 0.026 and 0.008 to 0.041 log CFU/g/h, respectively. An experimental challenge in Coalho cheese revealed that the populations of all tested antibiotic-resistant derivative strains of L. monocytogenes and S. aureus increased (>0.5 log CFU/g) by day 14 of storage at 7.5 or 12°C. L. monocytogenes and S. aureus had higher Grmax values in cheese samples stored at 12°C than those stored at 7.5°C. The ComBase growth predictions under the temperature, pH, and aw conditions in commercial Coalho cheese samples were generally fail-safe for predicting the growth of L. monocytogenes and S. aureus in the actual product. These results indicate that Coalho cheese has pH and aw characteristics that allow the growth of E. coli, L. monocytogenes, Salmonella, and S. aureus. These cheeses are typically stored at temperatures that do not prevent the growth of these bacteria.

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