The plasmid-free Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1614 is highly phage sensitive and lacks lactose fermenting ability (Lac) and primary casein degrading ability (Prt). Food grade gene transfer systems were used to sequentially superimpose different phage defense systems on this background, resulting in a gradual increase in resistance to bacteriophage in the derivatives. pLP712, encoding Lac and Prt, was then transferred to one of these hosts, into which plasmids encoding adsorption inhibition, restriction modification, and abortive infection had already been introduced. This resulted in a phage-resistant strain which was successfully used as a single- strain starter for cheddar cheese manufacture under industrial conditions.