Physical-chemical and microbiological aspects of the rennet cheese sold in the Northeast States of Brazil

The objective of this study was to evaluate the physical-chemical and microbiological profile of the rennet cheese sold in six states in northeastern Brazil. Physical-chemical and microbiological analyses of 104 samples of rennet cheese sold in the states of Pernambuco, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba and Sergipe were analyzed, being 50 samples inspected and 54 without inspection. There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) for physical-chemical parameters between samples. In accordance with the parameters of the legislation, in the 104 examined samples of rennet cheese, it was observed that 100 (96.15%) were outside the limits for Staphylococcuscoagulase positive; 32 samples (31%) did not follow the standardization required for coliforms; and only one sample showed the presence of Salmonella sp. There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) between samples with and without inspection for microbiological analyses. The similarity found in the assessment of physical-chemical parameters of rennet cheese between the evaluated states demonstrates uniformity in the processing of this product. High levels of contamination by pathogens such as Staphylococcuscoagulase positive and thermo-tolerant coliforms, as well as the presence of Salmonella sp., demonstrate that the consumption of rennet cheese may present a health risk for consumers.