Properties of Bacillus cereus and other bacilli contaminating biomaterial-based industrial processes

Int J Food Microbiol. 2000 Sep 25;60(2-3):231-9. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1605(00)00313-5.


This paper is an overview on bacilli in industrial processes, with focus on food grade paper and paperboard production. Paperboards mainly contain sporeforming bacteria belonging to the genera Bacillus, Paenibacillus and Brevibacillus, usually found in quantities from < 50 to 250 cfu g(-1) homogenized paperboard. Of those frequently found, Bacillus cereus group, B. licheniformis, B. subtilis and Brevibacillus brevis are important for food hygiene because of their hydrolytic activities on food components and the ability of some strains to produce food poisoning toxins or to grow at refrigerated temperatures. We found that the phenotypic properties (lecithinase activity, nitrate reduction) used in standard methods (e.g., ISO, FDA, IDF) to recognize B. cereus, were unreliable for industrial isolates. Whole cell fatty acid composition of a group of the industrial isolates deviated so much from those in a widely used commercial database that the strains were not or only poorly recognized as B. cereus. Industrial isolates, including toxigenic ones, often missed one or more of these characters, even in cases where 100% 16S rDNA identity was found with B. cereus or with B. thuringiensis. 11-Methyldodecanoic acid and trans-9-hexadecenoic acid were found without exception in over 200 industrial B. cereus group isolates and in over 30 culture collection strains. The detection of these fatty acids is a secure method for the identification of B. cereus. Negative reaction for starch hydrolysis and for BCET-RPLA test and a specific ribotype were found in all B. cereus strains producing the emetic toxin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus cereus / classification
  • Bacillus cereus / isolation & purification*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Enterotoxins / biosynthesis
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Food Packaging / methods*
  • Food Packaging / standards
  • Foodborne Diseases / prevention & control
  • Ribotyping


  • Enterotoxins
  • Fatty Acids