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Int J Food Microbiol. 2009 Dec 31;136(2):227-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.08.007. Epub 2009 Aug 13.

Biofilm formation on enteral feeding tubes by Cronobacter sakazakii, Salmonella serovars and other Enterobacteriaceae.

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School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Lane, Nottingham, NG11 8NS, UK.


WHO (2007) recommended that to reduce microbial risks, powdered infant formula should be reconstituted with water at temperatures >70 degrees C, and that such feeds should be used within 2h of preparation. However, this recommendation does not consider the use of enteral feeding tubes which can be in place for more than 48h and can be loci for bacterial attachment. This study determined the extent to which 29 strains of Cronobacter sakazakii, Salmonella serovars, other Enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter spp. can adhere and grow on enteral feeding tubes composed of polyvinyl chloride and polyurethane. The study also included silver-impregnated tubing which was expected to have antibacterial activity. Bacterial biofilm formation by members of the Enterobacteriaceae was ca. 10(5)-10(6) cfu/cm after 24h. Negligible biofilm was detected for Acinetobacter gensp. 13; ca. 10 cfu/cm, whereas Cr. sakazakii strain ATCC 12868 had the highest biofilm cell density of 10(7) cfu/cm. Biofilm formation did not correlate with capsule production, and was not inhibited on silver-impregnated tubing. Bacteria grew in the tube lumen to cell densities of 10(7)cfu/ml within 8h, and 10(9)cfu/ml within 24h. It is plausible that in vivo the biofilm will both inoculate subsequent routine feeds and as the biofilm ages, clumps of cells will be shed which may survive passage through the neonate's stomach. Therefore biofilm formation on enteral feeding tubes constitutes a risk factor for susceptible neonates.

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