Pasteurized bottled milk supplied by a single dairy was frequently found to be contaminated with Yersinia spp. Investigations were carried out at the dairy in an effort to pinpoint the source of these organisms. Viable counts obtained from milk bottle rinses indicated that bottle washing was often unsatisfactory, and on one occasion Y. frederiksenii was isolated from the pooled rinse water of six bottles. Samples of milk were taken on arrival at the dairy and at various stages following pasteurization. Heat resistance tests carried out on strains of yersinia isolated from pasteurized milk indicated that they would not survive the pasteurization process. However two strains of yersinia were isolated from a sample of milk taken immediately after pasteurization but before bottling. The thermograph indicated that the time/temperature conditions applied during pasteurization were adequate. The presence of yersinia strains in the milk at this stage therefore suggests that undetectable levels of raw milk were being allowed to contaminate the pasteurized milk. The absence of yersinia in cartoned samples produced on the same day as contaminated bottled samples indicated that environmental contamination of the bottle filler valve also may have occurred at times. Results of this investigation indicate that increased vigilance is required to ensure proper operation of pasteurizers and bottle washers.
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