In dairy plants, clean-in-place (CIP) equipment cannot be disassembled, making it difficult to clean the inner surface of pipes. In this study, the inhibitory effects of chemical agents on biofilms formed by three foodborne pathogens, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus, was evaluated in a dairy CIP system. The experiment was conducted on a laboratory scale. Each of the three bacteria (200 μL) was inoculated onto stainless steel (SS) chips (25 by 25 mm), and the effect of single cleaning agents was evaluated. Individual treatments with NaClO (30, 50, 100, and 200 ppm), NaOH (0.005, 0.01, 0.05, and 0.1%), citric acid (1, 3, 5, and 7%), and nisin (5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 200 ppm) were used to clean the SS chip for 10 min. The most effective concentration of each solution was selected for further testing in a commercial plant. Simultaneous cleaning with 200 ppm of NaClO (10 min) and 7% citric acid (10 min) reduced the biofilms of B. cereus, E. coli, and S. aureus by 6.9, 7.0, and 8.0 log CFU/cm2, respectively. Both 7% citric acid and 0.1% NaOH were optimal treatments for E. coli. NaClO and citric acid are approved for use as food additives in the Republic of Korea. Our results revealed that a combined treatment with NaClO and citric acid is the most effective approach for reducing biofilms formed by common foodborne pathogens on CIP equipment. These findings can contribute to the production of safe dairy products.

  • The efficacy of sanitizers on biofilms in a clean-in-place system was evaluated.

  • Both 7% citric acid and 200 ppm of NaClO reduced B. cereus and S. aureus.

  • The combination of 7% citric acid and 0.1% NaOH effectively reduced E. coli.

  • All pathogens and biofilms were reduced by >1 CFU/cm2 by a combined treatment.

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