Biofilm formation is one of the most persistent problems in the food and beverage industry, and the dairy processing industry is no exception to that. A biofilm is a network of bacteria and other microorganisms that grow on a surface. The stainless steel dairy processing equipment provides an optimal surface for the bacteria to stick and multiply. A high temperature with an abundance of moisture, organic food material, and water provides an optimal environment for them to thrive.
The presence of biofilm can contaminate dairy products and make them unsafe to consume. Once the biofilm is formed, it creates a slimy protective layer, making it challenging to get rid of the bacteria. In this blog, we will understand what are biofilms in the dairy industry and how you can prevent and control them.
A] Understanding Biofilm In Dairy Processing Industry
Biofilms can cause severe safety concerns in the dairy processing industry. Consumer health problems caused by bacterial contamination can cause operational downtime, financial losses, and even tarnish brand reputation. Dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese, and yoghurt, are part of a major food industry, and contamination can cause severe health crises. To prevent this and maintain the safety and quality of dairy products, extensive studies have been conducted on what causes the formation of bacterial biofilms.
While the milk obtained from a healthy milch animal is sterile, it can get easily contaminated by spore forming bacteria, fungi, and algae during transportation, storage, and processing. The metal or plastic equipment used during these processes provides a base for the contaminants to adhere to. Lack of proper sanitisation can make the conditions worse.
The presence of favourable temperatures, nutrition from the fats and protein, and moisture content can accelerate the multiplication process. The biofilm forms a slimy matrix known as the extracellular polymeric substance [EPS], which connects all the contaminants. The presence of EPS makes it difficult to get rid of biofilm. The bacteria and fungi are known to have a higher tolerance to antimicrobial chemicals, extreme temperatures, and UV radiation.
B] Detection And Monitoring Of Biofilms
Timely detection of bacteria and biofilms can help prevent contamination and maintain the integrity and safety of the product. Biofilms can start small and are often invisible to the naked eye. It can be too late until any physical signs of biofilm growth are visible. You can use different methods for detecting and monitoring contamination to prevent biofilm formation.
Regular visual inspection can help you detect certain signs of bacterial growth, such as slime and change of colour. It is to be noted that visual inspection is not an effective method and may not detect any early signs of biofilm.
Another method is using an ATP swab to take a sample of a certain equipment’s surface and get it tested in a laboratory. A major drawback of this detection system is that you can miss the affected area by just millimetres and not know until it is too late. This issue can be solved by using BioDtex Lamp in conjunction with the ATP swab. The BioDtex is a portable and handheld device that emits UV rays that expose bacteria and fungi stuck on the surface. The lamp is easy to use and can instantly highlight pathogens.
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C] Biofilm Prevention And Control Strategies
Regular cleaning and sanitisation are the best ways to ensure the quality of products and the safety of consumers in the dairy industry. However, normal cleaning procedures might not be able to remove biofilms. The slimy layer of EPS makes the bacteria and fungi more resistant to normal disinfectants.
With the help of BioDtex, Bioscan precisely pinpoints the presence of bacteria and other contaminants. Helping dairy product manufacturers tackle the problem of biofilm formation head-on.
Biofilms pose a significant threat to the operational efficiency and cost of the dairy processing industry. If biofilms are not completely detected and removed, they can damage the quality of the final product and risk the consumer’s health.
It is crucial for industry experts to understand how biofilms can form, how to clean them and how to prevent biofilm formation. Bioscan can help you accurately detect bacterial deposits. Contact us today to get the best-in-class biofilm detection and control services.