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The study evaluated the efficacy of four Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) culture media in suppressing commonly used starter cultures and typical nonstarter microflora present during the manufacture and ripening of Cheddar cheese, with a view to identify a suitable medium for the enumeration of MAP during laboratory-scale Cheddar production.Four Cheddar starter cultures and Cheddar cheese manufactured with these starters were inoculated onto Herrold's egg yolk medium (HEYM); HEYM supplemented with vancomycin, amphotericin B and nalidixic acid (HEYM/VAN); Middlebrook 7H10 agar containing polymyxin, amphotericin B, nalidixic acid, trimethoprim and azlocillin (PANTA) antibiotic supplement; and BACTEC 12B radiometric medium with and without a preliminary decontamination step (0·75% w/v hexadecylpyridinium chloride (HPC), 5 h). The inclusion of a decontamination step inhibited all Cheddar cheese starter and nonstarter micro-organisms. The medium 7H10/PANTA and to a lesser extent HEYM/VAN were effective inhibitors of cheese microflora when no decontamination step was employed.Middlebrook 7H10 medium, supplemented with PANTA antibiotics, suppressed all micro-organisms associated with ripening Cheddar cheese manufactured with pasteurized milk.A MAP culture medium has been identified, which may be used to enumerate this bacterium during the laboratory manufacture and ripening of Cheddar cheese and hence facilitate further research into the persistence of this pathogen in the product.