Survival and transfer of microorganisms from kitchen sponges to surfaces of stainless steel and polyethylene
Introduction: Contaminated sponges might lead to cross-contamination in kitchens since they can transfer microorganisms to surfaces where microorganisms can survive for hours or days and contaminate food. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the transfer and the survival of bacteria from kitchen sponges to surfaces of AISI 316 stainless steel and polyethylene.
Methodology: Twenty-four sponges were collected from industrial kitchens in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and aseptically split into two equal parts. One part was subjected to enumeration of heterotrophic microorganisms, faecal coliforms, coagulase-positive Staphylococcus and search detection of Salmonella enterica. The other part was rubbed on surfaces of AISI 316 stainless steel (12 sponges) or polyethylene (12 sponges). The transfer and survival of microorganisms was quantified by swab collection and pour-plate method using plate count agar.
Results: All sponges were contaminated by heterotrophic microorganisms (average of 6.8 log CFU/sponge) and 83.3% with faecal coliforms (average of 5 log CFU/sponge). None of the sponges were contaminated by S. enterica and/or coagulase-positive Staphylococcus. The average transfer of microorganisms varied between 3.3 and 5.5 log CFU/cm2 for stainless steel and from 3.5 to 5.6 log CFU/cm2 for polyethylene. Although the survival rate decreased over time, more than 1 log CFU/cm2 of heterotrophic microorganisms survived after 24 hours on both surfaces.
Conclusions: The sponges used in food services were significantly contaminated and could transfer large amounts of microorganisms to surfaces of AISI 316 stainless steel and polyethylene.
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