- Salmonella bacteria prove to be especially resilient in food-processing facilities, creating a major challenge for disinfection attempts.
- Three different types of disinfectants were fruitless in eradicating salmonella cells if the cells had formed a biofilm and had an incubation period of over seven days prior to the disinfectant being applied.
- Even being immersed in disinfectant for an extended period of time isn’t enough to terminate the resilient salmonella biofilms that can form on numerous types of surfaces including glass, stainless steel, tile, and plastic.
- The study emphasized that these findings confirm the need for food processing facilities to work towards preventing the introduction of salmonella into clean areas meant for processing and packaging cooked foods.
- More research is needed to find effective methods for combating the creation and impact of salmonella biofilms in food facilities.
Battling Salmonella, a bacteria feared in food manufacturing facilities, has proved to be a significant challenge, according to a recent study. The tenacious nature of this bacteria, once it makes its home in a food-processing plant, makes it exceptionally difficult to eradicate.
Disinfectants Versus Salmonella
The researchers initiated an experiment using three different kinds of disinfectants to curb a growing concentration of salmonella bacteria – a condition referred to as a biofilm. This biofilm had formed on multiple hard surfaces. The findings of the study were published digitally and in a February print edition of the respected journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
“Despite using all three disinfectants to eradicate the salmonella cells, our attempts proved fruitless if the biofilm had an incubation period of over seven days prior to the disinfectant being applied,” said researcher Mary Corcoran, from National University Ireland.
Survival of the Fittest
The startlingly resilient biofilms managed to survive even after being immersed in disinfectant for an hour and a half.
“We observed that each of the tested strains of salmonella were predisposed to form a specialized biofilm lifestyle on every surface we examined. The list included glass, stainless steel, glazed tile, and plastic,” added Corcoran. “The salmonella biofilm intensifies over time and clings more firmly to the surface.”
Consequences for Food-Processing Facilities
Corcoran emphasized that the findings confirm the imperative need for food-processing facilities to prevent the introduction of salmonella into areas kept clean for processing and packaging cooked food.
She urged people to reconsider the efficacy of hugely marketed disinfectants that promise to kill several bacteria types. “They may not be as effective in real-life situations where biofilms form, as they are in tests without the presence of biofilms. Quite often, the addition of a disinfectant may contribute little to nothing, compared to good cleaning and appropriate food-handling routines,” she noted.
Search for Viable Solutions
Corcoran insists that more research is vital to discover improved methods to combat salmonella biofilms.
Each year in the United States, salmonella infections exceed 1 million cases, leading to 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 fatalities, as per data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines to prevent salmonella.