In this study, 19 cheese samples from six common Egyptian cheese types were evaluated for microbiological safety and bacterial diversity using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing analysis. Results showed that the total viable count exceeded 5.2 log CFU g-1 in 13 cheese samples. Further, the count of Enterobacteriaceae varied in the range 2.0 to 6.7 log CFU g-1 in 17 samples. PCR-based detection of pathogenic strains confirmed the absence of Listeria spp. and Salmonella spp. Furthermore, 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing analysis revealed the richness and diversity of the bacterial communities inhabiting the Egyptian cheese samples. Besides unfavorable bacteria, such as Enterobacteriaceae, 10 genera were present in 74% of the examined samples, predominantly including lactic acid bacteria and salt-tolerant bacteria. These insightful findings provide a deeper understanding of the typical bacterial profiles of different Egyptian cheese types and can be applied to standardize cheese production and improve cheese quality and safety.
Key words: Egyptian cheese, microbiota, food safety, fermentation product, Amplicon sequencing.
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