, Volume 6, Issue 1-2, pp 29-42
Date: 06 Apr 2014

Biofilm Formation in Food Processing Environments is Still Poorly Understood and Controlled

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Abstract

The presence of undesirable biofilms on food processing contact surfaces may lead to: (1) transmission of diseases; (2) food spoilage; (3) shortened time between cleaning events; (4) contamination of product by nonstarter bacteria; (5) metal corrosion in pipelines and tanks; (6) reduced heat transfer efficacy or even obstruction of the heat equipment. Despite the significant problems caused by biofilms in the food industry, biofilm formation in these environments is still poorly understood and effective control of biofilms remains challenging. Although it is understood that cell attachment and biofilm formation are influenced by several factors, including type of strain, chemical–physical properties of the surface, temperature, growth media and the presence of other microorganisms, some conflicting statements can be retrieved from the literature and there are no general trends yet that allow us to easily predict biofilm development. It is likely that still unexplored interaction of factors may be more critical than the effect of a single parameter. New alternative biofilm control strategies, such as biocontrol, use of enzymes and phages and cell-to-cell communication interference, are now available that can reduce the use of chemical agents. In addition, as preventing biofilm formation is a more efficient strategy than controlling mature biofilm, the use of surface-modified materials have been suggested. These strategies may better reveal their beneficial potential when the ecological complexity of biofilms in food environments is addressed.