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Journal of Dairy Science
Vol. 98 (9), 2015, Pages: 5931–5945

Quantitative microbial risk assessment for Staphylococcus aureus in natural and processed cheese in Korea

Heeyoung Lee, Kyunga Kim, Kyoung-Hee Choi, Yohan Yoon

Department of Food and Nutrition, Sookmyung Women’s University, Seoul 140-742, Korea.


This study quantitatively assessed the microbial risk of Staphylococcus aureus in cheese in Korea. The quantitative microbial risk assessment was carried out for natural and processed cheese from factory to consumption. Hazards for S. aureus in cheese were identified through the literature. For exposure assessment, the levels of S. aureus contamination in cheeses were evaluated, and the growth of S. aureus was predicted by predictive models at the surveyed temperatures, and at the time of cheese processing and distribution. For hazard characterization, a dose–response model for S. aureus was found, and the model was used to estimate the risk of illness. With these data, simulation models were prepared with @RISK (Palisade Corp., Ithaca, NY) to estimate the risk of illness per person per day in risk characterization. Staphylococcus aureus cell counts on cheese samples from factories and markets were below detection limits (0.30–0.45 log cfu/g), and pert distribution showed that the mean temperature at markets was 6.63°C. Exponential model [P = 1 – exp(7.64 × 10-8 × N), where N = dose] for dose–response was deemed appropriate for hazard characterization. Mean temperature of home storage was 4.02°C (log-logistic distribution). The results of risk characterization for S. aureus in natural and processed cheese showed that the mean values for the probability of illness per person per day were higher in processed cheese (mean: 2.24 × 10-9; maximum: 7.97 × 10-6) than in natural cheese (mean: 7.84 × 10-10; maximum: 2.32 × 10-6). These results indicate that the risk of S. aureus-related foodborne illness due to cheese consumption can be considered low under the present conditions in Korea. In addition, the developed stochastic risk assessment model in this study can be useful in establishing microbial criteria for S. aureus in cheese.

Keywords: microbial risk assessment; Staphylococcus aureus; cheese; exposure assessment; risk characterization.

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