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Biofilms Have a New Foil

by 5m Editor
5 October 2009, at 12:00am

A new formulation has been found to be 100 per cent effective in killing <em>Listeria monocytogenes</em> and removes 90 per cent of biofilm, according to USDA Agricultural Research Service microbiologist, Judy Arnold.

Listeria monocytogenes—a foodborne pathogen—has been found in some ready-to-eat meats. It causes serious illness in about 2,500 people each year, resulting in 500 deaths.

Though L. monocytogenes is killed by cooking or pasteurisation, it can survive many chemicals used in in-plant sanitation programs. Thus, food can be contaminated during or after processing. The pathogen’s ability to grow at low temperatures may allow its growth in or on raw or improperly processed readyto- eat foods even when they are refrigerated.

One source of contamination is work surfaces of processing plants where meat products are made. ARS microbiologist Judy Arnold at the Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit in Athens, Georgia, has been looking for improved methods to control biofilms containing L. monocytogenes. Any method needs to be acceptable to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Biofilms are protective layers of proteins and polysaccharides that surround bacteria and stick to equipment surfaces. “These protective shields trap spoilage bacteria and other pathogens that contaminate food during processing, and they resist cleaning and sanitising,” says Ms Arnold. “Today’s longer production runs provide more opportunity for biofilms to establish themselves, and today’s longer shelf life adds to the risk of biological contamination.”

In collaboration with Sterilex Corporation of Owings Mills, Maryland, Ms Arnold has tested a proprietary formulation—based on alkaline peroxide and phase-transfer chemistry—that appears to be a cost-effective disinfectant for use in environments for poultry and meat production and processing. The formulation uses multiple chemical and physical actions to penetrate a biofilm, kill the microorganisms, and remove the biofilm from surfaces. It was tested against multiple disinfectants for killing and removal of L. monocytogenes biofilm.

In collaboration with Sterilex Corporation of Owings Mills, Maryland, Arnold has tested a proprietary formulation—based on alkaline peroxide and phase-transfer chemistry—that appears to be a cost-effective disinfectant for use in environments for poultry and meat production and processing. The formulation uses multiple chemical and physical actions to penetrate a biofilm, kill the microorganisms, and remove the biofilm from surfaces. It was tested against multiple disinfectants for killing and removal of L. monocytogenes biofilm."

October 2009