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Short communication: Characterization of Staphylococcus aureus isolated along the raw milk cheese production process in artisan dairies in Italy


Johler, Sophia; Macori, Guerrino; Bellio, A; Acutis, P L; Gallina, S; Decastelli, L (2018). Short communication: Characterization of Staphylococcus aureus isolated along the raw milk cheese production process in artisan dairies in Italy. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(4):2915-2920.

Abstract

Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of food-borne intoxications. Several staphylococcal food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to consumption of raw milk cheeses and artisanal cheese production. However, information on Staph. aureus isolated from artisanal raw milk cheeses and small-scale dairy production environments is very limited. Therefore, we aimed to characterize Staph. aureus isolated along the artisanal raw milk production chain by determining (1) the population structure, and (2) the presence/absence of enterotoxin genes, mecA/C, and pvl. We collected 276 samples from different production stages (raw milk, whey, curd, brine, drying worktops, and cheese) at 36 artisan dairies in Italy. A total of 102 samples from 25 dairies tested positive for Staph. aureus, with 80% positive samples among the tested artisan cheeses. All isolates were further characterized by spa typing and PCR screening for staphylococcal enterotoxin genes, the mecA/mecC genes characteristic for methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus, and the pvl gene encoding Panton-Valentine leukocidin. The 102 isolates represented 15 different spa types and were assigned to 32 different Staph. aureus strains. The spa type most frequently detected was t2953 (30%), which is associated with genotype B strains causing high within-herd levels of bovine mastitis. In addition, 3 novel spa types (t13269, t13277, and t13278) were identified. Although none of the strains harbored mecA/mecC or pvl, 55% of the isolates exhibited at least one enterotoxin gene. Many strains were present in samples from multiple dairies from different regions and years, highlighting the spread of Staph. aureus in small-scale cheese production plants. Our findings demonstrate that enterotoxigenic Staph. aureus and in particular t2953 (genotype B) isolates commonly occur in artisanal dairies and raw milk cheeses in Italy. It is particularly alarming that 80% of the artisan cheeses sampled in our study were positive for Staph. aureus. These findings stress the need for effective measures preventing staphylococcal food poisoning by limiting Staph. aureus growth and enterotoxin formation along the production chain and in the final product.

Abstract

Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of food-borne intoxications. Several staphylococcal food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to consumption of raw milk cheeses and artisanal cheese production. However, information on Staph. aureus isolated from artisanal raw milk cheeses and small-scale dairy production environments is very limited. Therefore, we aimed to characterize Staph. aureus isolated along the artisanal raw milk production chain by determining (1) the population structure, and (2) the presence/absence of enterotoxin genes, mecA/C, and pvl. We collected 276 samples from different production stages (raw milk, whey, curd, brine, drying worktops, and cheese) at 36 artisan dairies in Italy. A total of 102 samples from 25 dairies tested positive for Staph. aureus, with 80% positive samples among the tested artisan cheeses. All isolates were further characterized by spa typing and PCR screening for staphylococcal enterotoxin genes, the mecA/mecC genes characteristic for methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus, and the pvl gene encoding Panton-Valentine leukocidin. The 102 isolates represented 15 different spa types and were assigned to 32 different Staph. aureus strains. The spa type most frequently detected was t2953 (30%), which is associated with genotype B strains causing high within-herd levels of bovine mastitis. In addition, 3 novel spa types (t13269, t13277, and t13278) were identified. Although none of the strains harbored mecA/mecC or pvl, 55% of the isolates exhibited at least one enterotoxin gene. Many strains were present in samples from multiple dairies from different regions and years, highlighting the spread of Staph. aureus in small-scale cheese production plants. Our findings demonstrate that enterotoxigenic Staph. aureus and in particular t2953 (genotype B) isolates commonly occur in artisanal dairies and raw milk cheeses in Italy. It is particularly alarming that 80% of the artisan cheeses sampled in our study were positive for Staph. aureus. These findings stress the need for effective measures preventing staphylococcal food poisoning by limiting Staph. aureus growth and enterotoxin formation along the production chain and in the final product.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Food Safety and Hygiene
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Food Science, Animal Science and Zoology, Genetics, enterotoxin; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; spa typing; staphylococcal food poisoning
Language:English
Date:1 April 2018
Deposited On:13 Feb 2019 08:31
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:25
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0022-0302
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13815
PubMed ID:29397175

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