Transfer of Bacillus cereus spores from packaging paper into food

Jaakko Ekman (Corresponding Author), Irina Tsitko, Assi Weber, Christina Nielsen-Leroux, Didier Lereclus, Mirja Salkinoja-Salonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Food packaging papers are not sterile, as the manufacturing is an open process, and the raw materials contain bacteria. We modeled the potential transfer of the Bacillus cereus spores from packaging paper to food by using a green fluorescent protein-expressing construct of Bacillus thuringiensis Bt 407Cry(-) [pHT315Omega(papha3-gfp)], abbreviated BT-1. Paper (260 g m(-2)) containing BT-1 was manufactured with equipment that allowed fiber formation similar to that of full-scale manufactured paper. BT-1 adhered to pulp during papermaking and survived similar to an authentic B. cereus. Rice and chocolate were exposed to the BT-1-containing paper for 10 or 30 days at 40 or 20 degrees C at relative air humidity of 10 to 60%. The majority of the spores remained immobilized inside the fiber web; only 0.001 to 0.03% transferred to the foods. This amount is low compared with the process hygiene criteria and densities commonly found in food, and it does not endanger food safety. To measure this, we introduced BT-1 spores into the paper in densities of 100 to 1,000 times higher than the amounts of the B. cereus group bacteria found in commercial paper. Of BT-1 spores, 0.03 to 0.1% transferred from the paper to fresh agar surface within 5 min of contact, which is more than to food during 10 to 30 days of exposure. The findings indicate that transfer from paper to dry food is restricted to those microbes that are exposed on the paper surface and readily detectable with a contact agar method.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2236-2242
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Food Protection
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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