Bacterial Battle: How Protective Cultures Can Protect Us From Food-Borne Pathogens in Cheese

Cheese is a simple product. It usually only consists of milk, enzymes, salt, and bacteria that give the cheese its form and flavor. But this simplicity, free of preservatives found in other foods, leaves it vulnerable to hosting pathogens.

“It’s a huge risk because if there are pathogenic bacteria in raw milk and you make cheese from that milk, they can propagate and that can cause illness,” says Dennis D’Amico, associate professor of dairy foods in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

Federal regulations dictate that cheese producers cannot use the kinds of additives found in foods like deli meats to counteract this danger. One thing they can use, however, is bacterial cultures.

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