Academic article

Factors affecting survival of Shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli on abiotic surfaces

Møretrø, Trond; Heir, Even; Mo, Karin Rangøy; Habimana, Olivier; Abdelghani, Ahmed Moheyeldin; Langsrud, Solveig

Publication details

Journal: International journal of food microbiology, vol. 138, p. 71–77–7, 2010

Publisher: Elsevier

Issue: 1-2

International Standard Numbers:
Printed: 0168-1605
Electronic: 1879-3460

Open Access: none


Shigatoxin-producing Escherichia colt (STEC) causes severe infections, and has been the cause of a number of foodborne outbreaks. Knowledge on the survival of STEC is crucial in order to limit the risk of cross contamination and transfer of STEC to food during processing. In this study survival of STEC and non-STEC on surfaces under various humidities, temperatures and in the presence of different types of soil was investigated. A model system with controlled relative humidity and temperature was established by using saturated salt solutions. All the 12 STEC strains had a reduction in viable count during incubation at 70% RH at 12 degrees C. The reduction was 2-3.5 log and 4.5-5.5 log after 1 and 7 days of incubation, respectively. Surviving cells were observed after 19 days of incubation. The STEC strains were more resistant to desiccation than non-STEC strains. STEC survived better at 12 degrees C, compared to 20 degrees C. The survival of STEC was much lower than the survival of a Staphylococcus simulans strain tested, which showed less than 1 log reduction until day 7 at 70% RH at 12 degrees C, while several STEC strains had comparable survival to a Salmonella Agona strain. The survival of two STEC strains tested was highest at 98% RH. The lowest survival was observed at 85% RH, with better survival at drier conditions. Presence of proteins and glucose protected the cells at dry conditions. Two commercial disinfectants tested at in-use concentration had limited effect (0.8-2.5 log reduction) against STEC on stainless steel, especially for cells incubated at high relative humidity (98% RH). STEC surviving on surfaces in the food industry may impose a risk for cross contamination. Cleaning and use of suitable disinfectants will reduce the survival of STEC, but surfaces should be allowed to dry completely since humid conditions will promote the survival and growth of STEC. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.