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Meat Science
Vol. 97, No. 3
, 2014; Pages: 298–309

Attachment and biofilm formation by foodborne bacteria in meat processing environments: Causes, implications, role of bacterial interactions and control by alternative novel methods

Efstathios Giaouris, Even Heir, Michel Hébraud, Nikos Chorianopoulos, Solveig Langsrud, Trond Møretrø, Olivier Habimana, Mickaël Desvaux, Sandra Renier, George-John Nychas

School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, University College Dublin (UCD), Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Attachment of potential spoilage and pathogenic bacteria to food contact surfaces and the subsequent biofilm formation represent serious challenges to the meat industry, since these may lead to cross-contamination of the products, resulting in lowered-shelf life and transmission of diseases. In meat processing environments, microorganisms are sometimes associated to surfaces in complex multispecies communities, while bacterial interactions have been shown to play a key role in cell attachment and detachment from biofilms, as well as in the resistance of biofilm community members against antimicrobial treatments. Disinfection of food contact surfaces in such environments is a challenging task, aggravated by the great antimicrobial resistance of biofilm associated bacteria. In recent years, several alternative novel methods, such as essential oils and bacteriophages, have been successfully tested as an alternative means for the disinfection of microbial-contaminated food contact surfaces. In this review, all these aspects of biofilm formation in meat processing environments are discussed from a microbial meat-quality and safety perspective.

Keywords: Biofilms; Meat; Cross-contamination; Bacterial interactions; Alternative disinfection.

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