In this study the methods of Hungate were used to quantitate the anaerobic bacteria present in commercially available ground beef, cheddar cheese, and German hand cheese. Of 235 anaerobic roll-tube isolates from ground beef and German hand cheese, all were facultative anaerobes. Of 213 anaerobic roll-tube isolates from cheddar cheese, 91% were facultative anaerobes and 9% were obligate anaerobes. Using results of biochemical tests, 14 or the 17 obligately anaerobic isolates from cheddar cheese were Propionibacterium acnes, two were strains of Propionibacterium that could not be speciated, and one was tentatively identified as a strain of Streptococcus evolutus. Obligate anaerobes were estimated to be present in the cheddar cheese at a level of about 10(6)/g. The possible significance of these levels of P. acnes in nonsterile foods is discussed.
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