The abilities of certain microorganisms to be transferred across the food production chain, persist in the final product and, potentially, colonize the human gut are poorly understood. Here, we provide strain-level evidence supporting that dairy cattle-associated bacteria can be transferred to the human gut via consumption of Parmesan cheese. We characterize the microbial communities in samples taken from five different locations across the Parmesan cheese production chain, confirming that the final product contains microorganisms derived from cattle gut, milk, and the nearby environment. In addition, we carry out a human pilot study showing that Bifidobacterium mongoliense strains from cheese can transiently colonize the human gut, a process that can be enhanced by cow milk consumption.
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