Survival of Listeria monocytogenes Scott A on metal surfaces: implications for cross-contamination

Int J Food Microbiol. 2006 Sep 1;111(2):93-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2006.04.037. Epub 2006 Jul 28.


Listeria monocytogenes is an important re-emerging pathogen which is commonly found in the environment. Many outbreaks have been associated with the contamination of food produce, often linked to cross-contamination from surfaces or equipment to prepared foodstuffs. In the present study a number of copper-base metal alloys have been used to assess the survival times of L. monocytogenes on different materials, in comparison with stainless steel. High concentrations (10(7)) of bacteria were placed on metal coupons cut from each alloy. After defined incubation times, coupons were placed in tubes containing phosphate buffered saline and vortexed to remove the cells. Aliquots were then plated onto tryptone blood agar plates and the number of colony forming units counted. The high concentration of bacteria was used to represent a "worst-case" scenario. The results indicate that survival is greatly reduced on a copper-base alloy compared to stainless steel. Viable cells could be detected on stainless steel after 24 h incubation at room temperature. On copper, brass, aluminium bronze and silicon bronze, no viable bacteria could be detected after 60 min incubation, indicating a 5 log reduction (the detection limit of the procedure was 100 bacteria). No cells could be detected from copper nickel and copper nickel zinc alloys, after 90 min incubation. The viability stain, 5-cyano-2,3-ditolyl tetrazolium chloride (CTC), confirmed these results, with actively respiring bacteria being clearly labelled on stainless steel after 24 h. The results suggest that careful choice of surface material could reduce the potential risk of cross-contamination in industrial, commercial and domestic environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alloys*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Copper
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Listeria monocytogenes / growth & development*
  • Metals*
  • Stainless Steel
  • Time Factors


  • Alloys
  • Metals
  • Stainless Steel
  • Copper