News from CRIS: Packaging - Active Biofilms, Biofilms, and Films

July 12, 2021

Why do these terms sound similar?

Scientific terms can have numerous meanings based on the setting and the technology guiding how the terms are used in a specific subfield. Unfortunately, that can lead to confusion.
We're looking specifically at active biofilms, biofilms, and films in this post to help clarify their functions. 

Let's look at biofilms.

In microbiology, biofilms describe one or more microorganisms that grow on each other and a surface, adhere to the surface, and cannot be easily removed. Biofilms are typically composed of bacteria, fungi, and protists, which are diverse eukaryotic organisms, typically a single cell with a nucleus, that is not an animal, plant, or fungus (1). 
On the whole, biofilms associated with foods have a strong negative connotation. Typically, biofilms contain bacteria that could spoil food and cause harm to human health.
For example, listeria biofilms can plague milking and dairy processing equipment, causing listeria contamination in food if not immediately contained. Proper hygiene is critical not just for dairy equipment but also for all food processing facilities to ensure that persistent biofilms cannot dwell in a facility contaminating food.
While biofilms on equipment are of concern, adverse biofilms can form on foods if they are not packaged and appropriately transported. Packaging helps prevent damaging biofilms from forming on our foods and beverages.
Biofilms can be positive in specific and controlled situations. For example, biofilms used in water treatment facilities have a positive impact. However, generally, when biofilms are mentioned in the context of food production safety, they usually refer to an adverse outcome (1).


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