Identification and spoilage potential of the remaining dominant microbiota on food contact surfaces after cleaning and disinfection in different food industries

Sharon Maes, Marc Heyndrickx, Thijs Vackier, Hans Steenackers, Alex Verplaetse, Koen De Reu

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


    After cleaning and disinfection (C&D), surface contamination can still be present in the production environment of food companies. Microbiological contamination on cleaned surfaces can be transferred to the manufactured food and consequently lead to foodborne illness and early food spoilage. However, knowledge about the microbiological composition of residual contamination after C&D and the effect of this contamination on food spoilage is lacking in various food sectors. In this study, we identified the remaining dominant microbiota on food contact surfaces after C&D in seven food companies and assessed the spoilage potential of the microbiota under laboratory conditions. The dominant microbiota on surfaces contaminated at ≥102 CFU/100 cm2 after C&D was identified based on 16S rRNA sequences. The ability of these microorganisms to hydrolyze proteins, lipids, and phospholipids, ferment glucose and lactose, produce hydrogen sulfide, and degrade starch and gelatin also was evaluated. Genera that were most abundant among the dominant microbiota on food contact surfaces after C&D were Pseudomonas, Microbacterium, Stenotrophomonas, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. Pseudomonas spp. were identified in five of the participating food companies, and 86.8% of the isolates evaluated had spoilage potential in the laboratory tests. Microbacterium and Stenotrophomonas spp. were identified in five and six of the food companies, respectively, and all tested isolates had spoilage potential. This information will be useful for food companies in their quest to characterize surface contamination after C&D, to identify causes of microbiological food contamination and spoilage, and to determine the need for more thorough C&D.
    Translated title of the contributionIdentificatie en bederfpotentieel van de residuele dominante microbiota op voedingscontactoppervlakken na reiniging en ontsmetting in verschillende voedingssectoren
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Food Protection
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)262–275
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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