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Keywords:

  • biofilms;
  • Calgary Biofilm Device;
  • Listeria monocytogenes;
  • low temperature;
  • sanitizers

Abstract:  The biofilm-forming ability of 21 Listeria monocytogenes isolates, previously pulsotyped and corresponding to 16 strains, from different origins was evaluated using the Calgary Biofilm Device®, at 37 °C. Biofilms of 4 selected strains were also produced either on pure cultures or on co-cultures with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1), at 12 °C and at 37 °C. For these biofilms, the minimum biofilm eradication concentrations (MBECs) of 4 commercial dairy sanitizers (1 alkyl amine acetate based—T99, 2 chlorine based—T66 and DD, and 1 phosphoric acid based—BP) were determined. Listeria monocytogenes biofilms grown, either at 37 °C or 12 °C, were able to achieve similar cell densities by using different incubation periods (24 h and 7 d, respectively). In co-culture biofilms, P. aeruginosa was the dominant species, either at 37 °C or at 12 °C, representing 99% of a total biofilm population of 6 to 7 log CFU/peg. Co-culture biofilms were generally less susceptible than L. monocytogenes pure cultures. More interestingly, the biofilms produced at 12 °C were usually less susceptible to the sanitizers than when produced at 37 °C. Single or co-culture biofilms of L. monocytogenes and PAO1, particularly produced at 12 °C, retrieved MBEC values for agents T99 and BP that were, at times, above the maximum in-use recommended concentrations for these agents. The results presented here reinforce the importance of the temperature used for biofilm formation, when susceptibility to sanitizers is being assessed.

Practical Application:  Since most food plants have cold wet growth niches in production and storage areas, susceptibility testing should be performed on biofilms produced at refrigeration temperatures. Moreover, the efficiency of the sanitizers used in food industries should be performed on mixed culture biofilms, since in field conditions these will predominate. The results presented here highlight the importance of the temperature used for biofilm formation, when susceptibility to disinfectants is being assessed, as biofilms produced at lower temperature were less susceptible to sanitizers.