GLOBAL – A recent study delved into the complexities of cheese brine management, focusing on the efficacy of various parameters in controlling salt-tolerant pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus.

The findings revealed key factors influencing pathogen survival and the potential of hydrogen peroxide as a control measure.

Researchers examined the impact of brine pH, salt concentration, storage temperature, and hydrogen peroxide treatment on pathogen populations in both fresh and used commercial cheese brines.

Multiple scenarios were tested to mimic real-world conditions, encompassing different cheese types and storage environments.

Key findings

Researchers examined the impact of various factors, including brine pH, salt concentration, storage temperature, and the use of hydrogen peroxide, on pathogen reduction within cheese brines.

Fresh cheese brines with higher salt levels (10% or 20%) and lower pH (4.6) exhibited notable reductions in L. monocytogenes populations when treated with hydrogen peroxide, particularly at warmer temperatures (10°C and 15.6°C).

A concentration of 100 ppm of hydrogen peroxide resulted in a significant (>4-log) reduction in L. monocytogenes counts within 7 days.

In contrast, unfiltered used brines posed challenges, with the presence of indigenous yeasts impeding the efficacy of hydrogen peroxide, particularly in brines with specific pH and salt concentrations.

For used commercial brines, the addition of hydrogen peroxide demonstrated varying effectiveness depending on storage temperature and concentration. Higher temperatures and 100 ppm of hydrogen peroxide yielded the most substantial reductions in pathogen counts.

Implications and recommendations

The study underscores the importance of tailored approaches to cheese brine management, considering factors such as pH, salt concentration, and temperature.

While hydrogen peroxide shows promise as a pathogen control measure, its effectiveness may be influenced by the microbial composition of the brine.

Furthermore, researchers stress the need for thorough validation of hydrogen peroxide treatments in individual brine matrices to ensure efficacy without compromising cheese quality.

This includes assessing potential effects on color, beneficial microbiota, and sensory properties during aging processes.

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