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Concerns of Microbial Pathogens in Association with Dairy Foods

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      Abstract

      Recent outbreaks of foodborne disease linked to Salmonella, Listeria, and Yersinia have highlighted consumer awareness of microbiological problems in the food supply. Such outbreaks affirm the need for improved testing, environmental monitoring, and epidemiological surveillance. This paper reviews the entry of microbial pathogens into foods, with an emphasis on dairy products, by examining the contribution of the processing environment to microbial contamination. Numerous surveys, including a recent audit of dairy processing plants in Vermont, have revealed common foci of environmental contamination by Listeria and Yersinia persistent within dairy processing environments. With respect to dairy products, the bacterial pathogens discussed in this manuscript share a common source, raw milk. Characteristics possessed by Salmonella, Listeria, and Yersinia are compared and contrasted. In the case of Listeria, this bacterium's role as a newly emerged foodborne pathogen is discussed. Finally, the economic consequences associated with foodborne disease are highlighted, and future prospects related to foodborne illness are presented.

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