The microbial and metabolite composition of Gouda cheese made from pasteurized milk is determined by the processing chain

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Gouda cheeses of different production batches and ripening times often differ in metabolite composition, which may be due to the starter culture mixture applied or the growth of non-starter lactic acid bacteria (NSLAB) upon maturation. Therefore, a single Gouda cheese production batch was systematically investigated from the thermized milk to the mature cheeses, ripened for up to 100 weeks, to identify the main bacterial species and metabolites and their dynamics during the whole production and ripening. As this seemed to be starter culture strain- and NSLAB-dependent, it requested a detailed, longitudinal, and quantitative investigation. Hereto, microbial colony enumeration, high-throughput full-length 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and a metabolomic approach were combined. Culture-dependently, Lactococcus lactis was the most abundant species from its addition as part of the starter culture up to the first two months of cheese ripening. Afterward, the NSLAB Lacticaseibacillus paracasei became the main species during ripening. The milk was a possible inoculation source for the latter species, despite pasteurization. Culture-independently, the starter LAB Lactococcus cremoris and Lc. lactis were the most abundant species in the cheese core throughout the whole fermentation and ripening phases up to 100 weeks. The cheese rind from 40 until 100 weeks of ripening was characterized by a high relative abundance of the NSLAB Tetragenococcus halophilus and Loigolactobacillus rennini, which both came from the brine. These species were linked with the production of the biogenic amines cadaverine and putrescine. The most abundant volatile organic compound was acetoin, an indicator of citrate and lactose fermentation during the production day, whereas the concentrations of free amino acids were an indicator of the ripening time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110557
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Research Council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( SRP7 and IOF3017 projects) and Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors


  • Longitudinal cheese study
  • Inoculation sources
  • Starter culture
  • Non-starter lactic acid bacteria
  • High-throughput full-length 16S rRNA gene sequencing
  • Organic acids
  • Amino acids


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