Nopal cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) represents an alternative for cattle feed during the drought season in the drier regions of Mexico. Previously, we have shown that feed with the addition of nopal reduced aerobic mesophiles (AM) and coliform (C) counts in milk. In order to determine whether the nopal additive has some direct effect on the microbiological quality of milk, nopal mucilage (NM), nopal epidermis (NE) and ground nopal (GN) were added to 84 samples of raw milk at concentrations of 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0% for each fraction. After 2 h of exposure, 100 ml aliquots were taken and bacterial growth was assessed. Log10 CFU/ml of AM in GN (5.8) or NE (5.9) treated milk, showed results lower than those obtained with NM (6.3) or the control (7.1) with no additive. The addition of 0.5 and 1% of NE or GN decreased the counts of AM and C leading to the speculation that nopal cactus could be a viable alternate additive to improve milk quality.
Key words: Mexican Official Norms for dairy products, raw milk, Opuntia ficus-indica, nopal, aerobic mesophiles, coliforms.
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