Enterococci are natural residents of the human and animal gastrointestinal tracts; many species are also found in soil, plants and food. These organisms also form an important part of the microflora of many cheeses, especially those made in Southern Europe, where they can reach levels of 107 - 108 cfu/g. There is contradictory information on their role in flavour development in cheese with some studies showing that they have a positive effect and others a negative one. Enterococcus faecalis, Ec. faecium and Ec. durans are the important species found in cheese, though recent results from our laboratory show that Ec. casseliflavus may also be important (see below). Many of these species withstand pasteurisation. Their presence in food has been questioned because they are responsible for many nosocomial infections in hospitals. They are also promiscuous and easily transfer antibiotic resistance to other organisms and acquire resistance to vancomycin themselves.