Authors as Published

Authored by Reza Ovissipour, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech

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The ability of bacteria to adhere to surfaces has significant implications for the food industry. Attachment of pathogenic bacteria to fresh produce and contact surfaces can increase food safety risks as these surface properties allow bacteria to securely adhere to them.


Food contact surface attached bacteria can form biofilms and these biofilms can enhance resistance to sanitation. The enhanced resistance of biofilms to sanitizers can be attributed to many factors including formation of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that rapidly consume sanitizers such as chlorine. In addition, repeated exposure of bacteria to sub-lethal concentrations of sanitizers in a biofilm matrix can also enhance their resistance to sanitizers. Furthermore, the lack of removal of this EPS during sanitation may result in reformation of a biofilm post sanitation, thus enhancing their persistence on food contact surfaces.


Enhanced resistance and persistence of biofilms are highly significant as approximately 65% of the foodborne outbreaks are traced back to bacterial biofilms.


Thus, the antimicrobial activity of commonly used sanitizes including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium (QUATS), and peracetic acid can be limited against surface attached microbes due to rapid depletion in concentration and activity upon reactions with organic matters and complexity of structural features of the plant surface and biofilms.

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Publication Date

January 27, 2021