Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223, USA.
Biofilms are potential sources of contamination to food in processing plants, because they frequently survive sanitizer treatments during cleaning. The objective of this research was to investigate the combined use of alkaline and acidic electrolyzed (EO) water in the inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes biofilms on stainless steel surfaces. Biofilms were grown on rectangular stainless steel (type 304, no. 4 finish) coupons (2 by 5 cm) in a 1:10 dilution of tryptic soy broth that contained a five-strain mixture of L. monocytogenes for 48 h at 25 degrees C. The coupons with biofilms were then treated with acidic EO water or alkaline EO water or with alkaline EO water followed by acidic EO water produced at 14 and 20 A for 30, 60, and 120 s. Alkaline EO water alone did not produce significant reductions in L. monocytogenes biofilms when compared with the control. Treatment with acidic EO water only for 30 to 120 s, on the other hand, reduced the viable bacterial populations in the biofilms by 4.3 to 5.2 log CFU per coupon, whereas the combined treatment of alkaline EO water followed by acidic EO water produced an additional 0.3- to 1.2-log CFU per coupon reduction. The population of L. monocytogenes reduced by treatments with acidic EO water increased significantly with increasing time of exposure. However, no significant differences occurred between treatments with EO water produced at 14 and 20 A. Results suggest that alkaline and acidic EO water can be used together to achieve a better inactivation of biofilms than when applied individually.