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Coagulase positive staphylococci, milk, dairy products, process-hygiene criteria, staphylococcal enterotoxins


This study aims at enumerating coagulase positive staphylococci (CPS) in 404 samples of milk and dairy products collected in own-checks or during the official controls from different dairy industries located in Central Italy. These microorganisms were enumerated using ISO 6888-2:1999/Amd. 1:2003 and only when they exceeded 105CFU/g, the presence of any of the seven more common staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEA, SEB, SEC1, SEC2, SEC3, SED and SEE) was also investigated. Own-checks samples resulted always below the detection limit, whereas among those collected by the competent authorities in the framework of official controls, provola (100%) and mozzarella (22.9%) samples were positive to CPS, with mean values of 1.8x102 and 2.8x105 CFU/g respectively. Such values exceeded the maximum limits set by Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2073/2005, resulting in a request of hygiene improvements in the first case; in the second case, the presence of staphylococcal enterotoxins in 8 (2.7%) mozzarella samples out of 298 investigated cheese products was also observed, resulting in their withdrawn from the market. Therefore, this study aims at highlighting that monitoring of CPS incidence in dairy products and subsequent testing of cheeses for enterotoxins when appropriate represent an important tool for public health in order to avoid the occurrence of foodborne outbreaks.
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