“Eek-osystems”: Biofilm Considerations for the Food Industry
by Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.
“Have you ever missed one or two of your normal tooth-brushing sessions, and found your tongue traversing over a disconcertingly slimy layer coating your chompers? Well, welcome to the disturbing and quite fascinating world of biofilms. These hearty amalgams of microbiological activity provide both protection for microorganisms, as well as headaches for not only those avoiding plaque build-up, but most importantly for this blog, the food industry (allowing harborage and protection for bacteria and fungi).
Biofilms can form on a variety of surfaces in food processing environments, including stainless steel. A supercell of harborage, “Biofilms are complex microbial ecosystems formed by one or more species immersed in an extracellular matrix of different compositions depending on the type of food manufacturing environment and the colonizing species” (Geaile, et al). The “matrix” formed creates a powerful source of protection and fuel for the continued life and shear tenacity of these “eek-osystems” to affect, disrupt, and harm products.”