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Comprehensive multi-day and cross-facility evaluation of the industrial Cheddar cheese production environment microbiome.

J. Johnson

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06-24-2020

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Abstract:

W26
Comprehensive multi-day and cross-facility evaluation of the industrial Cheddar cheese production environment microbiome.
J. Johnson*, B. Selover, C. Curtin, J. Waite-Cusic. Oregon State University Corvallis, OR.

Industrial Cheddar cheese manufacturing has been accomplished through the engineering of equipment and design of manufacturing plants that are intended to improve production efficiency and minimize finished product quality variability. One aspect of cheese quality variability that remains uncharacterized is the microbial variability in cheese production environments within the context of production schedules. Our aim was to capture this variability by monitoring daily and facility-specific changes in microbial communities throughout the cheese production process. Samples of in-process product (milk and cheese curd) and environmental swabs from the draining-matting conveyor (DMC) and salter belts were collected from 3 Cheddar cheese production facilities over 3 consecutive days of production at the beginning, middle, and end of the production day. Diversity of the bacterial community, or microbiome, was determined using high throughput 16S rRNA sequencing. Microbial communities were compared at 3 levels - between replicates, between days at each facility, and between facilities. The extent of facility-to-facility or day-to-day variability differed between sampling locations, with facility differences being greater than daily differences in only 2 of the 9 sample locations considered. The relative abundance of dominant and subdominant taxa was also observed to change considerably between days, further illustrating the importance of repeated sampling in microbiome-based studies. Collectively, this study represents the most thorough investigation to date into the variability of microbial communities within the cheese production environment. These findings will serve as a foundation to support experimental design and sampling strategies for further investigations of the cheese facility microbiome and its impact on cheese quality.

Keywords: cheese, facility, microbiome.