Date of this Version
Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 85, No. 4, 2022, Pages 632–638 https://doi.org/10.4315/JFP-21-334
Meat contamination by Salmonella enterica is a serious public health concern. Available data have suggested that biofilm formation at processing plants and contaminated contact surfaces might contribute to meat contamination. Because transfer from contact surfaces to food products via direct contact has been deemed the most common bacteria transmission route that can lead to contamination, we evaluated the effect of Salmonella biofilm forming ability, contact surface material, and beef surface tissue type on Salmonella biofilm transfer from hard surfaces to beef products. Salmonella biofilms developed on the common contact surfaces stainless steel (SS) and polyvinylchloride (PVC) were transferred consecutively via 30 s of direct contact to either lean muscle or adipose tissue surfaces of 15 pieces of beef trim. The Salmonella biofilm cells could be effectively transferred multiple times from the contact surfaces to the beef trim as indicated by quantifiable Salmonella cells on most meat samples. Biofilm forming ability had the most significant impact (P < 0.05) on transfer efficiency. More cells of Salmonella strains that formed strong biofilms were transferred after each contact and contaminated more meat samples with quantifiable cells compared with strains that formed weak biofilms. Contact surface materials also affected transferability. Salmonella biofilms on SS transferred more efficiently than did those on PVC. In contrast, the two types of meat surface tissues were not significantly different (P > 0.05) in biofilm transfer efficiency. Beef trim samples that were in contact with biofilms but did not have quantifiable Salmonella cells were positive for Salmonella after enrichment culture. Our results indicate the high potential of Salmonella biofilms on common contact surfaces in meat processing plants to cause product cross-contamination.