Biopreservatives are clean-label ingredients used to control pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in ready-to-eat foods, including cheese. In a first set of experiments, the efficacies of six commercial biopreservatives in controlling Listeria monocytogenes growth at 4°C were tested in a high-moisture model cheese (pH 6.00, 56% moisture, and 1.25% salt) made of cream, micellar casein, water, salt, lactose, lactic acid, and a single protective culture (PC-1, PC-2, or PC-3 at 106 CFU/g [target]) or bacterial fermentate (CM-1 or CM-2 [cultured milk] or CSV-1 [cultured sugar-vinegar blend], 0.5 or 1.0% target level). Cheeses were inoculated with 3 log CFU/g L. monocytogenes (5-strain cocktail), after which 25-g samples were vacuum sealed and stored at 4°C for 8 weeks. L. monocytogenes populations from triplicate samples were enumerated weekly on modified Oxford agar in duplicate trials. L. monocytogenes growth (≥1-log increase) was observed in approximately 1 week in control cheese and those formulated with 106 CFU of PC-1 or PC-2 per g. Growth was delayed to 2.5 weeks in model cheeses formulated with 106 CFU of PC-3 per g or 0.5% CM-2 and to 3 weeks with 0.5% CM-1 or CSV-1. Growth was further delayed to 6.5 to 7.5 weeks in model cheeses formulated with 1.0% CM-1 or CM-2, while formulation with 1.0% CSV-1 inhibited L. monocytogenes growth for 8 weeks. In a second set of experiments, the combined effects of pH and 0.5% CSV-1 on L. monocytogenes inhibition were investigated. Incorporation of 0.5% CSV-1 delayed L. monocytogenes growth to 3, 6, and >10 weeks in cheeses of pH 6.00, 5.75, and 5.50, respectively, versus growth observed in 1, 1, and 3.5 weeks in control cheeses. These data suggest that certain fermentates have greater antilisterial activity than protective cultures in directly acidified cheeses with direct biopreservative incorporation and refrigerated storage. Further research is needed to optimize the conditions to prevent listerial growth by utilizing protective cultures in fresh, soft cheeses.

  • Protective cultures PC-1 and PC-2 did not inhibit L. monocytogenes growth under refrigeration.

  • PC-3 was more effective when incorporated directly than as propagated cells.

  • Bacterial fermentates delayed L. monocytogenes growth by ≥1.5 weeks in model cheese.

  • A cultured sugar-vinegar blend was more inhibitory than cultured milks.

  • Reducing the pH further delayed growth in model cheese with 0.5% cultured sugar-vinegar.

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