As we well know, with resources dwindling and new outbreaks every month, the fight against food-borne illnesses is more critical now than ever. Scientists are working around the clock to develop new technology that could stop deadly bacteria from ever reaching human mouths in the first place. Last month, Spanish industrial film company Derprosa released an antibacterial film that could revolutionize food packaging. Now scientists in the U.S. have discovered a naturally-occurring preservative that could stop deadly pathogens in their tracks at the processing stage.
Food Production Daily reports that researchers at the University of Minnesota have found a natural “lantibiotic,” or peptide produced from a benign bacterium, that is able to kill nasty gram negative bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. Dan O’Sullivan – professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences – and his research team discovered the properties of the lantibiotic in question (known as Bisin) by chance after cultivating it from a culture of Bifodobacterium longum bacteria.
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The researchers note that all lantibiotics available to the food production industry at the moment are only capable of killing gram positive bacteria. This new discovery could be extremely useful in preventing dangerous bacteria growth in meats, canned food, and other products. “Of the natural preservatives,” O’Sullivan told Food Production Daily, “it has a broader range of bugs that it can protect against.”
O’Sullivan and his associate, graduate student Ju-Hoon Lee, have reportedly received a patent for the preservative and are conducting research on how best to grow and use the preservative. It’s estimated that the preservative could make it to market within the next three years.