The production of cheese with incurred low levels of pathogenic microorganisms stressed by the production process was the aim of the study. A standard protocol for the preparation of artificially contaminated soft cheese on a laboratory scale was developed. Milk for cheese preparation was artificially contaminated with pathogenic target microorganisms at low levels, between 1 and 10 CFU/ml. Two strains of Escherichia coli O157:H7, two strains of Listeria monocytogenes, and three Salmonella spp. (Salmonella enterica serovars Typhimurium, Enteritidis, and Dublin) were investigated. The food pathogens in the cheese were exposed to the entire production process. All three microorganism species survived the cheese production process and were detected in the final product at concentrations between 1 and 50 CFU/g. The cheese produced contains target microorganisms that have been exposed to curd formation, drainage, setting, and ripening. This cheese can be used to validate microbiological methods or to examine the target microorganisms in a natural food environment at low concentrations. It represents an alternative to artificial contamination of cheese by adding target microorganisms to a final cheese product.

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