Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Dr. Amanda Lathrop


Listeria monocytogenes continues to challenge the dairy industry in causing post-process contamination of cheeses. To reduce risk of contamination, it is crucial to understand the growth and survival of pathogenic bacteria in cheese products and to develop post-process mitigation strategies. This study evaluated the fate of pathogens in reduced and regular sodium Mozzarella cheese, and the potential of Supercritical Fluid Extraction with CO2 (SFE) to reduce Listeria innocua on Mozzarella and Queso Fresco. The survival of L. monocytogenes, Salmonella, and E.coli O157:H7 (2-3 log CFU/g) in reduced sodium Mozzarella (1.62%), compared to regular sodium Mozzarella cheese (2.15%) at 4ºC and 12ºC for 90 and 30 days, respectively, was evaluated. Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 populations decreased over incubation time at both temperatures and no difference (pListeria monocytogenes population also decreased during incubation time at 4°C regardless of the sodium concentration in Mozzarella cheese. However, there was a difference in the population of L. monocytogenes for regular and reduced sodium incubated 12°C, and its populations increased 1 log CFU/g in reduced sodium Mozzarella cheese. Additionally, this study determined the bactericidal effect of SFE on the population of L. innocua, a surrogate for L. monocytogenes, in Mozzarella and Queso Fresco cheese (6 log CFU/g) treated with SFE at two pressures and temperatures (120 bar at 40°C and 150 bar at 50°C) for 30 min. SFE treatment at 120 bar, 40°C for 30 min decreased L. innocua by approximately 3.0 and 3.5 log CFU/g in Mozzarella and Queso Fresco cheeses, respectively. SFE at 150 bar and 50°C reduced L. innocua by approximately 3.78 and 5.2 log CFU/g in Mozzarella and Queso Fresco cheeses, respectively. Since SFE had a minimal effect on the physico-chemical characteristics of the cheeses assayed, the results suggest SFE might be used to reduce L. monocytogenes in cheeses without negatively impacting product quality.