The effect of somatic cell count (SCC) on the yield and composition of mozzarella cheese was evaluated. Cows with different levels of SCC in their milk (<200.000 cells/mL; >200.000 to <400.000 cells/mL; >400.000 cells/mL to <750.000 cells/mL and >750.000 cells/mL) were selected. The animals had no antimicrobial treatment prior to or on milk sampling day. The mozzarella cheese quality was evaluated analyzing pH, acidity, moisture and protein content, fat, total solids and nonfat solids. The trial was replicated four times and the experimental design was analyzed through randomized blocks. The mozzarella cheese from milk with high SCC (>750.000 cells/mL) had lower protein content, higher moisture content and lower industrial yield, compared to cheese from milk with lower levels of SCC. High numbers of SCC impaired mozzarella cheese quality, which was reflected in its nutritional and microbiological composition. We observed an increase in water activity, an intrinsic and essential factor for microbial growth.
mastitis; milk quality; cheese quality