Survival of Cronobacter in powdered infant formula and their variation in biofilm formation

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Abstract

Cronobacter is a ubiquitous Gram-negative pathogen bacterium capable of surviving in low water activity environments, in particular powdered infant formula (PIF). Seven Cronobacter strains representing four different species (C. sakazakii, n = 4; C. malonaticus, n = 1; C. muytjensii, n = 1; C. turicensis, n = 1) were subjected to dry stress and stored in PIF at room temperature. The resulting survivor curves showed that Cronobacter sp. can survive for extended periods of at least 3 months with a significant, but moderate, variability regarding the level of resistance between species; however, no correlation was evident regarding the origin of strains. These results are evaluated with regard to other key characteristics, including genomic profiles and biofilm formation capacities of the strains.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Cronobacter can survive extended periods of at least 3 months in PIF, with moderately significant interspecific variability in desiccation resistance. Results are evaluated with regard to genomic profiles and biofilm formation capacities of the strains, and contribute to an improved understanding of the environmental persistence of Cronobacter in contaminated PIF, and subsequent risk to infant exposure.

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