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Development of bacterial biofilms in dairy processing lines

  • John W. Austin (a1) and Gilles Bergeron (a1)

Summary

Adherence of bacteria to various milk contact sites was examined by scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. New gaskets, endcaps, vacuum breaker plugs and pipeline inserts were installed in different areas in lines carrying either raw or pasteurized milk, and a routine schedule of cleaning-in-place and sanitizing was followed. Removed cleaned and sanitized gaskets were processed for scanning or transmission electron microscopy. Adherent bacteria were observed on the sides of gaskets removed from both pasteurized and raw milk lines. Some areas of Buna-n gaskets were colonized with a confluent layer of bacterial cells surrounded by an extensive amorphous matrix, while other areas of Buna-n gaskets showed a diffuse adherence over large areas of the surface. Most of the bacteria attached to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE or Teflon™) gaskets were found in crevices created by insertion of the gasket into the pipeline. Examination of stainless steel endcaps, pipeline inserts, and PTFE vacuum breaker plugs did not reveal the presence of adherent bacteria. The results of this study indicate that biofilms developed on the sides of gaskets in spite of cleaning-in-place procedures. These biofilms may be a source of post-pasteurization contamination.

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