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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Bacillus cereus spores during housing of dairy cows: Factors affecting contamination of raw milk

Magnusson M, Christiansson A, Svensson B


The contamination of raw milk with Bacillus cereus spores was studied during the indoor confinement of dairy cattle. The occurrence of spores in fresh and used bedding material, air samples, feed, feces, and the rinse water from milking equipment was compared with the spore level in bulk tank milk on 2 farms, one of which had 2 different housing systems. A less extensive study was carried out on an additional 5 farms. High spore concentrations of > 100 spores/L in the raw milk were found on 4 of the farms. The number of spores found in the feed, feces, and air was too small to be of importance for milk contamination. Elevated spore contents in the rinse water from the milking equipment (up to 322 spores/L) were observed and large numbers of spores were found in the used bedding material, especially in free stalls with > 5 cm deep sawdust beds. At most, 87,000 spores/g were found in used sawdust bedding. A positive correlation was found between the spore content in used bedding material and milk (r = 0.72). Comparison of the genetic fingerprints obtained by the random amplified polymorphic DNA PCR of isolates of B. cereus from the different sources indicated that used bedding material was the major source of contamination. A separate feeding experiment in which cows were experimentally fed B. cereus spores showed a positive relationship between the number of spores in the feed and feces and in the feces and milk (r = 0.78). The results showed that contaminated feed could be a significant source of spore contamination of raw milk if the number of spores excreted in the feces exceeded 100,000/g


Bacillus cereus spore; contamination source; dairy cattle; raw milk

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2007, volume: 90, number: 6, pages: 2745-2754

Authors' information

Christiansson, Anders
Svensson, Birgitta

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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