Research – Biofilms and Meat Safety: A Mini-Review

Journal of Food Protection

Biofilms are surface-attached microbial communities with distinct properties, which have a tremendous impact on public health and food safety. In the meat industry, biofilms remain a serious concern because many foodborne pathogens can form biofilms in areas at meat plants that are difficult to sanitize properly, and biofilm cells are more tolerant to sanitization than their planktonic counterparts. Furthermore, nearly all biofilms in commercial environments consist of multiple species of microorganisms, and the complex interactions within the community significantly influence the architecture, activity, and sanitizer tolerance of the biofilm society. This review focuses on the effect of microbial coexistence on mixed biofilm formation with foodborne pathogens of major concern in the fresh meat industry and their resultant sanitizer tolerance. The factors that would affect biofilm cell transfer from contact surfaces to meat products, one of the most common transmission routes that could lead to product contamination, are discussed as well. Available results from recent studies relevant to the meat industry, implying the potential role of bacterial persistence and biofilm formation in meat contamination, are reviewed in response to the pressing need to understand the mechanisms that cause “high event period” contamination at commercial meat processing plants. A better understanding of these events would help the industry to enhance strategies to prevent contamination and improve meat safety.

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