Tuesday, October 7, 2014


America is a country which can be cursed or admired depending on the yardstick one uses. When food safety and healthy foods are concerned, this country has a despicable record though this is not due to the scientific inertia or insensitivity by the scientists to the sufferings of the consumer but due to the attitude of its politicians who are all prisoners of the food industry lobbyists spending millions of dollars to curry favor with them. But scientists as a group are highly innovative bringing out novel findings and new technologies regularly whether for manufacturing or safety assessment. No wonder most of the Nobel laureates hail  from the US during the last few decades. The Netherlands appears to have taken a lead on the US recently by finding an effective solution to the emergence of dangerous pathogens which have much higher damage potential due to their ability to circumvent the lethal effect of most of the antibiotics presently in the armory of the physicians. The so called antibiotic resistance developed by a few disease causing bacteria is the greatest threat to humanity and with the development of a bacteriophage based treatment protocol, primarily for the meat industry which by far is the biggest user of antibiotics at present. here is a take on this new development which has far reaching implications vis-a-vis humans.  

"The FDA and US Department of Agriculture have approved a food processing aid against Salmonella, according to a press release. The additive, called Salmonelex, uses natural phages to eliminate the bacteria. Salmonelex is produced by Micreos of the Netherlands and will be used by poultry processors in the United States beginning in January. "Now that the FDA and USDA have given the green light we can offer food processors a new and natural solution against Salmonella, including antibiotic resistant strains," saidMark Offerhaus, CEO of Micreos. "Salmonelex is seen as a very elegant solution as it targets only Salmonella and has no other effect on the treated food product, neither in taste, nor texture." The food processing aid can be applied as a topical spray or added to chilled tank water. According to the US Food Safety and Inspection Services of the USDA, illnesses attributed to Salmonella have continued at a high rate or have increased despite previous interventions. "Research has shown that Salmonelex does not dissipate in the presence of protein," according to Dirk de Meester, business development manager for Micreos. "Thus, the product enables processors to reduce the use of chemicals and reach Salmonella in places where antimicrobial chemicals are ineffective, for example in follicles which close when exposed to cold water in a chiller."

Proving safety of any food additive or processing aid for contact application is a herculean task involving heavy investments in resources and time. Ready approval by USFDA and USDA for using this processing aid by the poultry industry in the US is all the more surprising because American meat industry has been misusing antibiotics for enhanced growth of the meat animals though there is no scientific explanation as to why this happens. Whether poultry industry will avoid using antibiotics with the availability of the new disinfecting agent from the Nethelands remains to be seen. Salmonella food poisoning is one of the most serious food safety problems in the US and logic and common sense demand that meat processors use this new tool more extensively to protect the consumers from the threat of Salmonella infection of meat products.


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