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The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of total coliforms and Escherichia coli in Minas cheese throughout the manufacturing process in 3 medium-scale cheese plants from São Paulo, Brazil. Each cheese plant was visited 4 times to collect samples at approximately 2 month intervals, totalizing 12 visits. Raw milk samples had high total coliforms and E. coli counts in all cheese plants, and at the 4 sampling times, with a mean value of 4.7 log most probable number (MPN) mL-1 for total coliforms. E. coli was not detected in pasteurized milk samples in any cheese plant. However, all samples of packaged Minas cheese had high levels of total coliforms. The percentages of samples of packaged Minas cheeses with E. coli counts above the tolerance limit for fecal coliforms (2.7 log MPN g-1) varied from 25% to 80% in the 3 cheese plants. Given the potential involvement of E. coli in human diseases and its frequent occurrence in Minas cheese, there is a need for improvement of hygiene practices for its prevention in medium-scale cheese plants in Brazil.