A stomach bug that keeps food fresh?

I’m accustomed to thinking of stomach bacteria as things that digest, or break down, food. However, it appears that one of them doesn’t. The Telegraph reports:

Fresh food could be made to last for years after scientists discovered a natural preservative capable of destroying a whole class of bacteria, including E.coli and listeria.

There would also be no need to refrigerate produce treated with the preservative, called bisin, which is produced by harmless bacteria.

They say that foods like milk, sausages and sandwiches containing the agent could be on the shelves within three years.

Ready meals, opened wine and fresh salad dressing could also be safely consumed long after they were bought, say scientists.

Researchers at Minnesota University in the US discovered the substance from a culture of a harmless bacteria, Bifidobacterium longum, commonly found in the human gut.

It is the first naturally occurring agent identified that attacks so-called gram-negative bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and listeria.

Dan Sullivan, an Irish microbiologist who now works at the university, told The Sunday Times: “It seems to be much better than anything which has gone before. It doesn’t compromise nutrient quality — we are not adding a chemical, we are adding a natural ingredient.”

He and his team have patented the substance in the US.

Bisin is related to nisin, which attacks gram-positive bacteria, and is used in the manufacture of processed cheeses and meats. As such, it is generally recognised as safe and would not have to be pharmacologically tested.

There’s more at the link.

This could be hugely important to preserve foods in parts of the world where refrigeration and other safe storage methods are too difficult and/or expensive to implement. I wish something like it had been available to me when I was swanning around Africa for all those years . . . it might have prevented an awful lot of doses of ‘Africa’s revenge’!


1 comment

  1. I note stomach/gut tissue has already been used in preservative work for thousands of years- in cheesemaking and as sausage casings.

    Wonder if a relative was helping with that, and if natural sausages last longer than the collagen-casing cousins.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *