Italy is one of the main producers and exporters of cheese made from unpasteurized sheep milk. Since raw milk and its derived products are known sources of human infections, cheese produced from raw sheep milk could pose a microbiological threat to public health. Hence, the objectives of the study were: to characterize the potential risk of the presence of pathogens Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella in raw ovine milk destined for cheese production obtained from all the sheep farms (n = 24) in the Marches region (Central Italy) that directly transform raw milk into cheeses and to evaluate the equivalence between the analytical methods applied.
A three-step molecular method (simultaneous culture enrichment, species-specific DNA magnetic isolation, and multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction) was used for milk (n = 143) and cheese (n = 5) analysis over a 3-year period. L. monocytogenes was not detected on any of the farms, while E. coli O157 was found on three farms, although only using the molecular method. Four farms tested positive for Salmonella spp., and Salmonella enterica subsp. diarizonae serovar 61:k:1,5,7 was isolated in one of those cases.
This information highlights the need to develop preventative measures to guarantee a high level of consumer safety for this specific product line, and the molecular method could be a time-saving and sensitive tool to be used in routine diagnosis.
Presence of Escherichia coli O157, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes in raw ovine milk destined for cheese production and evaluation of the equivalence between the analytical methods applied
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2159.
G Amagliani, A Petruzzelli, E Carloni, F Tonucci, M Foglini, E Micci, M Ricci, S di Lullo, L Rotundo, G Brandi