This work developed a 16S rRNA-PacBio Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing-based method to identify and track the bacterial community of milk powder (MP) from two kinds of production settings, i.e., small-scale production contained within an in-house environment (minimal milk storage before pasteurization, milk concentration, and spray drying) and a large-scale factory production (prolonged milk storage before direct spray drying). A total of 18 samples were analyzed at the species level. Comparing with the large-scale factory production, only relatively little changes were observed in the bacterial community during the in-house production process, without significant loss in the levels of bioactive minor proteins (namely, lactoferrin, immunoglobulin G, lactoperoxidase, and lysozyme). The two most prevalent species in the in-house production, Bacillus cereus and Bacillus flexus, were likely originated from the raw milk with only small changes in their relative abundances (from 25.97% to 26.40%–28.89% and 27.40%, respectively) throughout the processing (from raw milk to MP). In contrast, large-scale factory production resulted in more obvious variation in the microbial content. This microbial tracking approach is valuable in identifying the contamination source and the specific stage when contamination happens; the implementation of such technique may also enhance food quality assurance systems that are currently used in the dairy industry.
Journal: Food control