The efficacy of using a lacticin 3147-producing starter as a protective culture to improve the safety of cottage cheese was investigated. This involved the manufacture of cottage cheese using Lactococcus lactis DPC4268 (control) and L. lactis DPCL4275, a bacteriocin-producing transconjugant strain derived from DPC4268. A number of Listeria monocytogenes, strains, including a number of industrial isolates, were assayed for their sensitivity to lacticin 3147. These strains varied considerably with respect to their sensitivity to the bacteriocin. One of the more tolerant strains, Scott A, was used in the cottage cheese study; the cheese was subsequently inoculated with approximately 10(4) L. monocytogenes Scott A g(-1). The bacteriocin concentration in the curd was measured at 2560 AU ml(-1), and bacteriocin activity could be detected throughout the 1 week storage period. In cottage cheese samples held at 4 degrees C, there was at least a 99.9% reduction in the numbers of L. monocytogenes Scott A in the bacteriocin-containing cheese within 5 d, whereas in the control cheeses, numbers remained essentially unchanged. At higher storage temperatures, the kill rate was more rapid. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of lacticin 3147 as an inhibitor of L. monoytogenes in a food system where post-manufacture contamination by this organism could be problematic.