Listeria species are ubiquitous in nature and can adapt to survive in a variety of niches, including food processing environments. Listeria species that colonize these environments may also have the potential to persist. Food safety strategies designed to manage these niches include regular cleaning and disinfection with proven sanitizers containing biocide-active compounds. Typically, these sanitizers are effective against bacteria growing under planktonic conditions, but their efficacy may be compromised when bacteria are contained in biofilms. The susceptibility of persistent Listeria isolates, i.e., those capable of forming biofilms, to a selection of sanitizers was investigated. A quaternary ammonium compound–based sanitizer was the biocide most effective against planktonic bacteria, with a MIC of 0.0015 to 0.006%. In contrast, ethanol-based sanitizers were the least effective. Although, no triclosan tolerance was observed for planktonic Listeria isolates, triclosan was the only biocide that resulted in a significant biomass reduction. Differences between Listeria species were observed; L. monocytogenes and L. welshimeri biofilms were more tolerant to quaternary ammonium compound–based sanitizers than were L. innocua biofilms. These findings extend our understanding of the application of commonly used sanitizers in the food industry and the efficacy of these sanitizers against Listeria species and their associated biofilms.
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