Bacterial attachment on surfaces is an important biological and industrial concern. Many parameters affect cell attachment behavior, including surface roughness and other topographical features. An understanding of these relationships is critical in the light of recent outbreaks caused by foodborne bacteria. Postharvest packing lines have been identified as a potential source of cross-contamination with pathogens, which can cause subsequent foodborne illness. The objective of this article is to evaluate the influence of surface topographical features on bacterial attachment at various processing temperatures to determine the extent of bacterial colonization. Type 304 stainless steel surfaces and pathogenic Listeria monocytogenes Scott A were used for a detailed investigation. Two commonly used surface types, extruded and ground, were evaluated to determine differences in bacterial attachment on the same type of material. Fifteen surface topography parameters at three processing temperatures were studied to evaluate possible correlations with microbial attachment on these surfaces. Scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and confocal microscopy were used for both qualitative and quantitative analyses of surfaces. An analysis of variance and multivariate regression analysis were used to predict the attachment behavior of L. monocytogenes Scott A on stainless steel surfaces. Surface isotropy, average surface roughness, surface spacing, and processing temperatures were strongly correlated with bacterial attachment on 304 stainless steel material.

  • L. monocytogenes Scott A colonization on stainless steel is not a single factor phenomenon.

  • Surface isotropy influences the attachment behavior of L. monocytogenes Scott A on surfaces.

  • Changes in microstructure and surface spacing can be implemented to minimize bacterial attachment.

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