Listeria monocytogenes Biofilms in the Food Industry: Is the Current Hygiene Program Sufficient to Combat the Persistence of the Pathogen?

Microorganisms. 2021 Jan 15;9(1):181. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9010181.


Biofilms contain microbial cells which are protected by a self-produced matrix and they firmly attach themselves to many different food industry surfaces. Due to this protection, microorganisms within biofilms are much more difficult to eradicate and therefore to control than suspended cells. A bacterium that tends to produce these structures and persist in food processing plants is Listeria monocytogenes. To this effect, many attempts have been made to develop control strategies to be applied in the food industry, although there seems to be no clear direction on how to manage the risk the bacteria poses. There is no standardized protocol that is applied equally to all food sectors, so the strategies for the control of this pathogen depend on the type of surface, the nature of the product, the conditions of the food industry environment, and indeed the budget. The food industry performs different preventive and corrective measures on possible L. monocytogenes-contaminated surfaces. However, a critical evaluation of the sanitization methods applied must be performed to discern whether the treatment can be effective in the long-term. This review will focus on currently used strategies to eliminate biofilms and control their formation in processing facilities in different food sectors (i.e., dairy, meat, fish, chilled vegetables, and ready-to-eat products). The technologies employed for their control will be exemplified and discussed with the objective of understanding how L. monocytogenes can be improved through food safety management systems.

Keywords: L. monocytogenes; biofilms; cleaning; disinfection; food safety.

Publication types

  • Review