Behavior of Listeria monocytogenes in a Pseudomonas putida Biofilm on a Condensate-Forming Surface

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Listeria monocytogenes has been isolated from condensate-forming surfaces in food processing plants. The objective of this research was to observe the behavior of L. monocytogenes on condensate-covered stainless steel with a Pseudomonas putida biofilm. L. monocytogenes-containing biofilms, either with or without added chicken protein, were incubated in a high humidity chamber at 12°C to allow formation of condensate. Samples were analyzed for attached and unattached L. monocytogenes and total plate count periodically for 35 days. Samples were also taken for microscopic observation of Listeria and bacterial extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). L. monocytogenes attached in significantly greater numbers (>3-log difference) to surfaces with preexisting P. putida biofilms than to Pseudomonas-free surfaces. L. monocytogenes survived in the presence or absence of P. putida with no added nutrients for 35 days, with numbers of survivors in the range of 3 to 4 log CFU/cm2 in the presence of P. putida and less than 2.9 log CFU/cm2 in pure culture. Attached and unattached L. monocytogenes were at similar levels throughout the incubation under all conditions studied. The addition of protein to the biofilms allowed growth of L. monocytogenes in pure culture during the first 7 days of incubation. Numbers of L. monocytogenes were not affected by the presence of P. putida when protein was present. Unattached L. monocytogenes were at levels of 3.6 to 6.7 log CFU/cm2 on the protein-containing surfaces. Microscopic observation of the condensate-covered biofilms indicated that L. monocytogenes formed microcolonies embedded within an EPS matrix over a 28-day period. This research demonstrates that L. monocytogenes can survive on condensate-forming stainless steel in low and high nutrient conditions, with or without the presence of Pseudomonas biofilm. The Listeria can detach and, therefore, have the potential to contaminate product.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Food Safety, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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