Biofilms formed by pathogenic bacteria are of special interest in the context of food hygiene since they may significantly compromise food safety. Those containing spoilage microbes can downgrade food quality, limit shelf life of the products, and lead to other important issues (e.g., clogging of membranes, increases in energy costs, biofouling, and corrosion problems).
The main bacterial species responsible for initial colonisation, maturation and dispersal of food industry biofilms include Bacillus cereus (which secretes toxins that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting), Escherichia coli (including enterotoxigenic and even enterohemorrhagic strains), Listeria monocytogenes (a ubiquitous species in soil and water that can lead to abortion in pregnant women, and serious illness in children and the elderly), Salmonella enterica (which, when contaminating a food pipeline biofilm, may lead to massive outbreaks and even death in children and the elderly), and Staphylococcus aureus (known for its numerous enteric toxins).
BUT it’s also worth mentioning that some biofilms are deliberately applied to food products to prolong shelf-life.
Further reading on biofilms and shelf life
Elton Alisson. Biofilm can double egg shelf life. Fapesp, 2020. https://agencia.fapesp.br/biofilm-can-double-egg-shelf-life/32691/.
Fernando Henrique Lermen, Vera Regina Piazza, Carolina Kruse Ramos, José Luis Duarte Ribeiro, Márcia Elisa Echeveste, Nabi Assad Filho, and Tânia Maria Coelho. Biofims to improve fruit shelf life using hydrophobic and pre-gel cassava modified starch. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/star.202000095
Elegbeleye JA, Buys EM. Molecular characterization and biofilm formation potential of Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus velezensis in extended shelf-life milk processing line. J Dairy Sci. 2020 Jun;103(6):4991-5002. DOI:https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2019-17919.
Galié Serena, García-Gutiérrez Coral, Miguélez Elisa M., Villar Claudio J., Lombó Felipe. Biofilms in the Food Industry: Health Aspects and Control Methods. Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol 9, 2018, pp898. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.00898
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Fruit and vegetables
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