A biofilm model for flowing systems in the food industry

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When bacteria attach to the walls of pipelines, they can form biofilms, which can cause the recontamination of food products. In order to quantify such recontamination, a one-dimensional biofilm model was developed taking into account adsorption, desorption, and the growth of cells. The model consisted of two mass balances describing increases in biofilm formation at the wall and the accumulation of cells in the liquid phase. The necessary parameters for the model were obtained in laboratory biofilm experiments. These experiments involved a flowing system and the use of Staphylococcus aureus as a model pathogen and silicon tubing as a testing material. S. aureus was inoculated into the system for 2 h, and then the system was changed to a sterile medium. Both biofilm formation and the release of cells into the flowing liquid were measured until steady-state conditions were reached (for up to 9 days). The experiments were performed in duplicate for different flow conditions (i.e., for Reynolds numbers of 3.2, 32, and 170). It was shown that at higher Reynolds numbers, the biofilm developed faster, probably owing to an increase in the transfer of nutrients to the surface. The proposed biofilm model was capable of describing the data obtained for the three different flow conditions with the use of the specific growth rate in the biofilm and the desorption coefficient as fit parameters. The specific growth rates were 0.16, 0.27, and 0.49 h(-1) for Reynolds numbers of 3.2, 32, and 170, respectively, and the desorption coefficients were about 1% of these values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432-1438
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • bacterial biofilms
  • meat surfaces
  • shear-stress
  • detachment
  • attachment
  • kinetics


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