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Attachment of Listeria monocytogenes to an Austenitic Stainless Steel after Welding and Accelerated Corrosion Treatments

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Austenitic stainless steels, widely used in food processing, undergo microstructural changes during welding, resulting in three distinctive zones: weld metal, heat-affected zone, and base metal. This research was conducted to determine the attachment of Listeria monocytogenes in these three zones before and after exposure to a corrosive environment. All experiments were done with tungsten inert gas welding of type 304 stainless steel. The four welding treatments were large or small beads with high or low heat. After welding, all surfaces were polished to an equivalent surface finish. A 10-μl droplet of an L. monocytogenes suspension was placed on the test surfaces. After 3 h at 23°C, the surfaces were washed and prepared for scanning electron microscopy, which was used to determine attachment of L. monocytogenes by counting cells remaining on each test surface. In general, bacteria were randomly distributed on each surface type. However, differences in surface area of inoculum due to differences in interfacial energy (as manifested by the contact angle) were apparent and required normalization of bacterial count data. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in numbers of bacteria on the three surface zones. However, after exposure to the corrosive medium, numbers of bacteria on the three zones were higher (P < 0.05) than those on the corresponding zones of noncorroded surfaces. For the corroded surfaces, bacterial counts on the base metal were lower (P < 0.05) than those on heat-affected and weld zones.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Poultry Science, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA 2: Materials Research and Education Center, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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