The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of surface roughness (Ra) and finish of mechanically polished stainless steel (Ra = 0.26 +/- 0.05, 0.49 +/- 0.10, and 0.69 +/- 0.05 microm) and electropolished stainless steel (Ra = 0.16 +/- 0.06, 0.40 +/- 0.003, and 0.67 +/- 0.02 microm) on Listeria adhesion and biofilm formation. A four-strain cocktail of Listeria monocytogenes was used. Each strain (0.1%) was added to 200 ml of tryptic soy broth (TSB), and coupons were inserted to the mixture for 5 min. For biofilm formation, coupons with adhesive cells were incubated in 1:20 diluted TSB at 32 degrees C for 48 h. The experiment was performed by a randomized block design. Our results show that the level of Listeria present after 48 h of incubation (mean = 7 log CFU/cm2) was significantly higher than after 5 min (mean = 6.0 log CFU/cm2) (P < 0.01). No differences in initial adhesion were seen in mechanically finished (mean = 6.7 log CFU/cm2) when compared with electropolished stainless steel (mean = 6.7 log CFU/cm2) (P > 0.05). Listeria initial adhesion (values ranged from 5.9 to 6.1 log CFU/cm2) or biofilm formation (values ranged from 6.9 to 7.2 log CFU/cm2) was not significantly correlated with Ra values (P > 0.05). Image analysis with an atomic force microscope showed that bacteria did not colonize the complete surface after 48 h but were individual cells or grouped in microcolonies that ranged from 5 to 10 microm in diameter and one to three cell layers in thickness. Exopolymeric substances were observed to be associated with the colonies. According to our results, electropolishing stainless steel does not pose a significant advantage for food sanitation over mechanically finished stainless steel.
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