Electropolished Steel Might Positively Repel Bacteria By
Bacterial film on poultry processing equipment might be prevented by a
polishing treatment originally designed to give steel a showroom shine,
according to an Agricultural Research
Service scientist in Athens, Ga.
Microbiologist Judy Arnold found some potential food- safety benefits in a
steel electropolishing process developed by Simmons Engineering Company, a
poultry-plant machinery maker in Dallas,Ga. In electropolishing, steel gets an
acid bath and then an electrical current is passed through it. In several
studies, polishing, sandblasting and grinding have all reduced the buildup of "biofilm"--a
matrix of microorganisms that have attached to each other. In Arnold's study,
however, electropolishing seemed most effective.
Biofilms can be hard to remove even with chemical cleansers. In a poultry
processing plant, biofilms can form if bacteria such as Salmonella move
from carcasses to wet steel surfaces. These bacteria can multiply and infect
other carcasses--a phenomenon called cross- contamination. Biofilm resistance
would cut the need for sanitation chemicals.
Simmons Engineering Company had been concerned about reports linking
biofilms and stainless steel. So company vice-president Wayne Austin contacted
Arnold after learning she was testing various kinds of steel for resistance to
bacterial attachment. She decided to include electropolished steel in her
studies. Arnold works in the Poultry
Processing and Meat Quality Research Unit, part of ARS' Richard B. Russell
Agricultural Research Center in Athens. She suspects that electropolishing
changes steel's electrical charge to positive, thus repelling the negatively
Details are in a story in the February issue of ARS' Agricultural
Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Judy W. Arnold, ARS Richard B. Russell
Agricultural Research Center, 950 College Station Rd., Athens, Ga. Phone (706)
546-3515, fax (706) 546-3548, firstname.lastname@example.org.