A total of 35 samples (1000 ml each) of pasteurized milk and 25 samples (100 g each) of white cheese purchased at supermarkets in Rio de Janeiro were analyzed for the presence of Aeromonas. Strains of Aeromonas were isolated from 28.5% of pasteurized milk and 32% of white cheese samples. Standard Plate counts in the pasteurized milk samples ranged from 7.2 × 10* to 2.5 × 105 CFU/ml. Total and fecal coliform counts in white cheese samples ranged from 1.9 × 10* to 2.4 × 105 most probable number per g and 3.2 × 102 to 1.2 × 105 most probable number per g, respectively. It was possible to identify Aeromonas caviae (58.9%), Aeromonas hydrophila (12.8%), and Aeromonas schubertii (2.5%) among the cultures isolated from pasteurized milk samples. Twenty-five percent of the strains could only be classified as Aeromonas spp. In white cheese samples, unclassified strains were the most frequent isolates (61.5%) followed by A. hydrophila (26.9%), A. caviae (7.6%) and Aeromonas sobria (3.8%). Only strains of A. hydrophila and A. sobria showed high rate of positive results when tested for the production of hemolysin, cytotoxin, and staphylolytic activity. Heat-stable enterotoxin and autoagglutination test did not correlate as virulence factors. The presence of Aeromonas species in refrigerated food samples suggests that this microorganism could be a potential foodborne pathogen, and dairy products may represent an important vehicle of its transmission.

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