Occurrence of Yeasts in White-Brined Cheeses: Methodologies for Identification, Spoilage Potential and Good Manufacturing Practices

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Yeasts are generally recognized as contaminants in the production of white-brined cheeses, such as Feta and Feta-type cheeses. The most predominant yeasts species are Debaryomyces hansenii, Geotrichum candidum, Kluyveromyces marxianus, Kluyveromyces lactis, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, and Trichosporon spp. Although their spoilage potential varies at both species and strain levels, yeasts will, in case of excessive growth, present a microbiological hazard, effecting cheese quality. To evaluate the hazard and trace routes of contamination, the exact taxonomic classification of yeasts is required. Today, identification of dairy yeasts is mainly based on DNA sequencing, various genotyping techniques, and, to some extent, advanced phenotypic identification technologies. Even though these technologies are state of the art at the scientific level, they are only hardly implemented at the industrial level. Quality defects, caused by yeasts in white-brined cheese, are mainly linked to enzymatic activities and metabolism of fermentable carbohydrates, leading to production of metabolites (CO2, fatty acids, volatile compounds, amino acids, sulfur compounds, etc.) and resulting in off-flavors, texture softening, discoloration, and swelling of cheese packages. The proliferation of spoilage yeast depends on maturation and storage conditions at each specific dairy, product characteristics, nutrients availability, and interactions with the co-existing microorganisms. To prevent and control yeast contamination, different strategies based on the principles of HACCP and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) have been introduced in white-brined cheese production. These strategies include milk pasteurization, refrigeration, hygienic sanitation, air filtration, as well as aseptic and modified atmosphere packaging. Though a lot of research has been dedicated to yeasts in dairy products, the role of yeast contaminants, specifically in white-brined cheeses, is still insufficiently understood. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge on the identification of contaminant yeasts in white-brined cheeses, their occurrence and spoilage potential related to different varieties of white-brined cheeses, their interactions with other microorganisms, as well as guidelines used by dairies to prevent cheese contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number582778
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • GMP, microbial interactions, off-flavors, spoilage yeasts, white-brined cheese, yeast identification

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