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Propolis antimicrobial activity has been limitedly studied in food, particularly in dairy products. We studied the antimicrobial activity of an alcoholic extract of an Italian propolis in sterile skim milk, pasteurized cow’s milk, and cow’s and goat’s whey cheese (ricotta). Following the determination of the minimal inhibitory concentration on Gram+ and Gram- bacteria, the extract was employed at 2 and 5% (P2, P5), using controls with the same ethanol concentrations (E2, E5) and without any addition. In milk trials, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Pseudomonas fluorescens were tested. P2 and P5 samples registered significant decreases of Gram+ bacteria in skim milk. The same was true for P5 in cows’ milk, but only with S. aureus for P2. Ricotta was inoculated with L. monocytogenes, S. aureus and B. cereus and stored at 8.5°C. In cow’s milk ricotta, L. monocytogenes counts in P5 were always lower than control during the storage time, significantly so from the 14th day. In goat’s ricotta, L. monocytogenes counts in P5 were at least one logarithm lower than E5, whereas the extract didn’t show a significant effect on S. aureus and B. cereus. The antimicrobial activity of propolis, particularly on L. monocytogenes, could be employed in ready-to-eat refrigerated dairy products.
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