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High content of biogenic amines in Pecorino cheeses

Schirone, Maria, Tofalo, Rosanna, Fasoli, Giuseppe, Perpetuini, Giorgia, Corsetti, Aldo, Manetta, Anna Chiara, Ciarrocchi, Aurora, Suzzi, Giovanna
Food microbiology 2013 v.34 no.1 pp. 137-144
Enterococcus, Escherichia coli O157, Italian cheeses, Lactobacillus, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, bacteria, coagulase negative staphylococci, ewe milk, histamine, lipid content, microbial detection, pasteurization, pathogens, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, risk estimate, sensory properties, tyramine, yeasts, Italy
Pecorino refers to Italian cheeses made exclusively from raw or pasteurized ewes' milk, characterized by a high content of fat matter and it is mainly produced in the Middle and South of Italy by traditional procedures. The autochthonous microbiota plays an important role in the organoleptic traits of Pecorino cheese and it can influence biogenic amines (BA) content.The aim of this study was to characterize from microbiological and chemical point of view 12 randomly purchased commercial cheeses produced in Abruzzo region. Moreover, the BA content and the bacteria showing a decarboxylating activity were detected. For this purpose, a real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) was applied to evaluate histamine and tyramine-producers.The samples were well differentiated for microbial groups composition, such as aerobic mesophilic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, coagulase-negative staphylococci, yeasts, enterococci, mesophilic and thermophilic lactobacilli. Pathogens such as Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7 were absent in all samples.In most samples the content of BA resulted to be high, with prevalence of histamine and tyramine. In particular, total BA content reached 5861 mg/kg in Pecorino di Fossa cheese. The qPCR method resulted to be very useful to understand the role of autochthonous Pecorino cheese microbiota on BA accumulation in many different products. In fact, since the ability of microorganisms to decarboxylate aminoacids is highly variable being in most cases strain-specific, the detection of bacteria possessing this activity is important to estimate the risk of BA cheese content.