Several materials such as plastic, wood, cardboard or stainless steel are used as working surfaces or packaging in direct contact with foodstuffs. In food industries, the hygienic surface status is one of the criteria to product conform packaging as described in the European regulation ECR 1935/2004. Today in European Union, it exists one harmonized regulation specific for Food Contact material made of plastic called EU N°10/2011 (Anonymous 2011a). This regulation specifies that materials intended for safe foodstuff contact must not modify food characteristics in terms of chemical, microbiological and sensorial properties.
This study aims to compare the survival and transfer of Penicillium expansum conidia and Escherichia coli cells from several materials to apples. Poplar, cardboards, newly manufactured plastic and reusable plastic specimens were artificially inoculated with both microorganisms, subsequently put in contact with apples and stored under realistic storage conditions. After incubation for up to 1 week, apples and specimens were analysed to assess the survival of the microorganisms and their transfer from materials to apples.
While P. expansum survived and did not grow on any of the materials, E. coli mortality was observed after 1 h on wood and cardboard and after 1 week on both plastics. The proportion of microorganisms transferred was different according to the considered material. This transfer was lower than 1% for wood.