The thermal and chemical resistance levels of four autochthonal bacteriophages of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, isolated from cheese processes, was investigated. The times required to obtain 99% inactivation of phages (T99) at 63 and 72°C in three suspension media (M17 broth, reconstituted commercial nonfat skim milk, and Tris magnesium gelatin buffer) were determined. Thermal resistance was dependent on the phage studied, and the results of this study demonstrate that pasteurization treatments used in dairy industries may leave viable viral particles in milk. It was possible to determine that M17 broth was generally the least protective medium, while phosphate buffer was the most protective one. Peracetic acid (0.15%, vol/vol) was the most effective viricidal agent, with exposures of 5 min being sufficient to inactivate high-titer phage suspensions (>106 PFU/ml). To achieve total inactivation (<10 PFU/ml) of viral suspensions, sodium hypochlorite was effective at 100 ppm for only two phages, while the other two phages needed concentrations of 200 and 300 ppm. Ethanol at concentrations of 100 and 75% proved to be very efficient in inactivating phages, but isopropanol was not effective against them.

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