Biofilms: A Recurrent Issue in the Food Industry

15/06/2022 14:10 - 14:40

Biofilms is a complex structure of microorganisms enclosed in extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Several studies have demonstrated the presence of biofilms in different ecosystem such as food industry, for example in brewing, dairy processing, fresh produce, poultry processing and red meat processing. Biofilms are considered as a source of microbial contamination leading to food spoilage, shelf-life reduction, and are also considered as a potential way of pathogen transmission. It is estimated that 60% of food-borne infections occurred due to microbial transfer from equipment surfaces to processed foods.

Conventional sanitizing methods seems to be inefficient against biofilms and moreover increases resistance to antimicrobial products. Nevertheless, the limitation of CIP procedures still is the residual microorganisms on the equipment surfaces, resulting in biofilm formation. Biofilms have been reported as possessing resistance towards antimicrobials that are 100–1000 times more than equivalent populations of free-floating counterparts. The CIP regime provided significant variation in reducing the viable cell numbers. The increased biofilm resistance to conventional treatments enhances the need to develop new control strategies. 

New strategies have been proposed to eliminate biofilms by using enzymes, phages or bioregulation. The use of enzyme-based detergents as biocleaners, also known as ‘‘green chemicals’’, can serve as a viable option to overcome biofilms in the food industry. Enzymes and detergents have been used as synergists to improve disinfectant efficacy. Formulations containing several different enzymes seem to be fundamental for a successful biofilm control strategy. This presentation will give an overview about the consequences of biofilms in food industries and some tools to detect their presence. Finally, some case studies will illustrate the power of enzyme strategies to eradicate biofilms in a food process.

Benoit Duculot, Director of Innovation & Technology Center, Realco