Cheese made with unpasteurised milk has been associated with outbreaks of illness. However, there are limited data on the prevalence of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) in these products, and a lack of clarity over the significance of E. coli as general indicators of hygiene in raw milk cheeses. The aim of this study was to provide further data to address both of these issues as well as assessing the overall microbiological quality of raw milk cheeses available to consumers in England. A total of 629 samples of cheese were collected from retailers, catering premises and manufacturers throughout England. The majority (80%) were made using cow’s milk with 14% made from sheep’s milk and 5% from goat’s milk. Samples were from 18 different countries of origin, with the majority originating from either the UK (40%) or France (35%). When interpreted against EU microbiological criteria and UK guidance, 82% were considered to be of satisfactory microbiological quality, 5% were borderline and 12% were unsatisfactory. Four samples (0.6%) were potentially injurious to health due to the isolation of STEC from one, >10 4 cfu/g of coagulase positive staphylococci in two and >100 cfu/g of Listeria monocytogenes in the fourth sample. Indicator E. coli and Listeria species were detected more frequently in soft compared to hard cheese. Higher levels of indicator E. coli were significantly associated with a greater likelihood of detecting shiga toxin genes ( stx 1 and/or stx 2).
Listeriosis is a foodborne disease caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Because outbreaks of listeriosis are associated with the ingestion of contaminated dairy products, surveillance of artisanal cheeses to detect the presence of this microorganism is necessary. We collected three types of artisanal non-acid fresh cheese (Campesino, Costeño, and Cuajada) from 12 municipalities of the Department of Quindío, Colombia. L. monocytogenes was identified using VIDAS® and confirmed with API® Listeria Rapid Kit. L. monocytogenes was detected in 104 (53.6%) of the 194 artisanal fresh-cheese samples analyzed. The highest percentages of contamination were detected in Salento (90.9%), Calracá (65.5%), Armenia (64.9%), and Filandia (50%). A significant association between municipality and contamination with L. monocytogenes was identified. However, no association could be established between the type of cheese and the occurrence of the bacterium. This is the first study on the presence of L. monocytogenes in artisanal fresh cheeses sold in the municipalities of the Department of Quindío, and the findings revealed very high percentages of contaminated samples. The presence of L. monocytogenes in artisanal cheeses remains a public health threat in developing countries, especially Colombia, where existing legislation does not require the surveillance of L. monocytogenes in food. View Full-Text
CFA, its members and their retail customers, have long been at the forefront of the development of best practice, control and regulation of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in the UK, Europe and beyond. CFA’s various Listeria guidance documents are available as free downloads.
European listeriosis data consistently show UK rates to be half of that for Europe overall. Outside the UK, commercial enforcement by customers is often lacking and differing interpretations of regulations lead to a lack of consistent compliance.
Against this background the European Commission is expected to propose changes to Lm legislation (EU Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs Regulation 2073/2005). This is expected to require challenge testing to set shelf life, rather than the established and proven effective Day of Production (DOP) and End of Life (EOL) approach, coupled with storage trials.
The expected changes will particularly affect chilled foods made on the Continent, where shelf lives are substantially longer than those in the UK’s tightly controlled local market – but changes would also impact export to the EU. Increased waste would result from consequent reduced shelf lives, with increased prices from highly specialised and narrowly applicable testing – all with questionable food safety benefits.
“The EU’s approach is also flawed in that it only covers the testing of food and does not address critical hygienic control of the food production environment. We can see no obvious public health or sustainability benefit to the changes and will continue to lobby the EC to retain the DOP/EOL and storage trial approach as it is demonstrably highly effective. In short, when it comes to European Listeria legislation – it’s not broken, please don’t fix it!”