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Inactivation of Clostridium perfringens spores adhered onto stainless steel surface by agents used in a clean-in-place procedure

Alzubeidi, Yasmeen S., Udompijitkul, Pathima, Talukdar, Prabhat K., Sarker, Mahfuzur R.
International journal of food microbiology 2018 v.277 pp. 26-33
Clostridium perfringens, adhesion, ambient temperature, cleaning in place, cross contamination, disinfectants, food industry, food pathogens, food processing, foodborne illness, foods, hydrophobicity, nitric acid, poisoning, refrigeration, sodium hydroxide, spores, stainless steel, toxigenic strains, vegetative cells
Enterotoxigenic Clostridium perfringens, a leading foodborne pathogen can be cross-contaminated from food processing stainless steel (SS) surfaces to the finished food products. This is mostly due to the high resistance of C. perfringens spores adhered onto SS surfaces to various disinfectants commonly used in food industries. In this study, we aimed to investigate the survivability and adherence of C. perfringens spores onto SS surfaces and then validate the effectiveness of a simulated Clean-in-Place (CIP) regime on inactivation of spores adhered onto SS surfaces. Our results demonstrated that, 1) C. perfringens spores adhered firmly onto SS surfaces and survived for at-least 48 h, unlike their vegetative cells who died within 30 min, after aerobic incubation at refrigerated and ambient temperatures; 2) Spores exhibited higher levels of hydrophobicity than vegetative cells, suggesting a correlation between cell surface hydrophobicity and adhesion to solid surfaces; 3) Intact spores were more hydrophobic than the decoated spores, suggesting a positive role of spore coat components on spores' hydrophobicity and thus adhesion onto SS surfaces; and finally 4) The CIP regime (NaOH + HNO3) successfully inactivated C. perfringens spores adhered onto SS surfaces, and most of the effect of CIP regime appeared to be due to the NaOH. Collectively, our current findings may well contribute towards developing a strategy to control cross-contamination of C. perfringens spores into food products, which should help reducing the risk of C. perfringens-associated food poisoning outbreaks.