Contamination of food with spoilage bacteria and pathogens from food processing environment remains a challenge for the food industry. Bacteria able to persist in such environments over time must survive several hygienic hurdles. The aim of this study was to identify bacteria surviving practical disinfection and compare their survival abilities with representative isolates of the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Bacteria isolated from processing surfaces after cleaning and disinfection in a meat abattoir were identified. Selected isolates of the most frequently isolated bacterial genera along with eight meat associated L. monocytogenes were further characterized with regard to biofilm formation abilities at 12℃ and 20℃, tolerance to desiccation (stainless steel at 70%RH at 12℃) and bactericidal effects of recommended in-use-concentrations of four commercial disinfectants on stainless steel surface. The most dominating bacterial genera based on counts on non-selective agar were Aerococcus, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Serratia and Staphylococcus. Isolates of Citrobacter.Enterobacter and Serratia dominated on agar plates selective for Enterobacteriaceae. In general, Gram negative bacteria formed more biofilm than Gram positives, especially at 12℃ with the best biofilm formers being Acinetobacter, Citrobacter and Pseudomonas. Listeria monocytogenes were poor biofilm formers. Gram positives survived better air drying than Gram negatives. Strains of L. monocytogenes were more sensitive to desiccation than the other Gram positives; Aerococcus, Kocuria and Staphylococcus. Two disinfectants containing peracetic acid and a disinfectant containing alkylaminoacetate had limited or no antibacterial effect against bacteria dried on stainless steel. A quaternary ammonium compound-based disinfectant provided >2 log reductions of Aerococcus, Acinetobacter and Listeria. Only 0.5 log reductions were obtained against Staphylococcus and no bactericidal effect against Serratia. In this study the dominating flora in a meat abattoir was isolated and identified. Several of these bacteria were better biofilm formers and more resistant to desiccation and disinfection than L. monocytogenes. The disinfectants tested had limited bactericidal activity against surface associated bacteria.
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