Main content area

Listeria monocytogenes in Gorgonzola cheese: Study of the behaviour throughout the process and growth prediction during shelf life

Dalzini, Elena, Cosciani-Cunico, Elena, Monastero, Paola, Bernini, Valentina, Neviani, Erasmo, Bellio, Alberto, Decastelli, Lucia, Losio, Marina-Nadia, Daminelli, Paolo, Varisco, Giorgio
International journal of food microbiology 2017 v.262 pp. 71-79
Listeria monocytogenes, cheese ripening, gorgonzola cheese, models, monitoring, pH, pasteurized milk, pathogens, prediction, shelf life, surveys, temperature, Europe
As reported on RASFF's portal, in the first 9months of 2016, a total of 13 “alerts/information for attention” were issued concerning the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in mould cheeses throughout Europe. This study analyzes the behaviour of L. monocytogenes in Gorgonzola cheese, a typical Italian soft blue-veined cheese, when contaminated at different time points. In the first challenge test, the pasteurized milk was contaminated and the complete cheese manufacture (cheesemaking, ripening) and shelf life was simulated.After a decrease during the first days of the cheesemaking, the pH remained constant for 35days (5weeks) and then it increased rapidly reaching the final values of 6.8±0.02 in the core and 5.8±0.4 on the rind. At the same time, the pathogen concentration decreased (about 2logCFU/g), although during the last week a rapid pathogen growth was observed after the rise in pH values.When the cheese was stored at thermal abuse condition (8–12°C), the pathogen concentration on the rind was 4.8±0.3 log CFU/g and after 66days (about 9weeks) no significant difference (p>0.05) was observed; whereas, a growth from 5.4±0.4 to 7.1±0.5logCFU/g was observed in the core. A second challenge test was performed using three batches of commercial slices of Gorgonzola cheese inoculated by L. monocytogenes and stored at 8°C. The maximum specific growth rates (μmax, 1/h) of L. monocytogenes estimated ranged from 0.007 to 0.061. The square root model was used to predict the μmax at others temperature and to establish the time necessary to reach the European critical legal limit of 2logCFU/g, in different storage scenarios. The predictions obtained in this study can be applied to any time-temperature profile, and in particular to the conditions to which the product is most likely to be subject in normal use, up to its final consumption. This study can be considered a valuable contribution also aimed at supporting the monitoring surveys carried out by officers of the Regional Veterinary Authority.