Academic article

Microbial background flora in small-scale cheese production facilities does not inhibit growth and surface attachment of Listeria monocytogenes

Schirmer, Bjørn Christian; Heir, Even; Møretrø, Trond; Skaar, Ida; Langsrud, Solveig

Publication details

Journal: Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), vol. 96, p. 6161–6171, 2013

Issue: 10

International Standard Numbers:
Printed: 0022-0302
Electronic: 1525-3198

Open Access: none

Links:
DOI

The background microbiota of 5 Norwegian small-scale cheese production sites was examined and the effect of the isolated strains on the growth and survival of Listeria monocytogenes was investigated. Samples were taken from the air, food contact surfaces (storage surfaces, cheese molds, and brine) and noncontact surfaces (floor, drains, and doors) and all isolates were identified by sequencing and morphology (mold). A total of 1,314 isolates were identified and found to belong to 55 bacterial genera, 1 species of yeast, and 6 species of mold. Lactococcus spp. (all of which were Lactococcus lactis), Staphylococcus spp., Microbacterium spp., and Psychrobacter sp. were isolated from all 5 sites and Rhodococcus spp. and Chryseobacterium spp. from 4 sites. Thirty-two genera were only found in 1 out of 5 facilities each. Great variations were observed in the microbial background flora both between the 5 producers, and also within the various production sites. The greatest diversity of bacteria was found in drains and on rubber seals of doors. The flora on cheese storage shelves and in salt brines was less varied. A total of 62 bacterial isolates and 1 yeast isolate were tested for antilisterial activity in an overlay assay and a spot-on-lawn assay, but none showed significant inhibitory effects. Listeria monocytogenes was also co-cultured on ceramic tiles with bacteria dominating in the cheese production plants: Lactococcus lactis, Pseudomonas putida, Staphylococcus equorum, Rhodococcus spp., or Psychrobacter spp. None of the tested isolates altered the survival of L. monocytogenes on ceramic tiles. The conclusion of the study was that no common background flora exists in cheese production environments. None of the tested isolates inhibited the growth of L. monocytogenes. Hence, this study does not support the hypothesis that the natural background flora in cheese production environments inhibits the growth or survival of L. monocytogenes.