A natural cleaning fluid made of live bacteria could help meat processors get rid of pathogensfrom animal hides, a key source of cross-contamination in the plant.
OmniLytics said this week that the product became available on the market after the US Departmentof Agriculture gave approval for its bacteriophage treatment for killing E. coli O157:H7 on thehides of live animals just before they are slaughtered.
OmniLytics' said its product can be applied as a mist, spray or wash. Bacteriophages are theviral hit squads of the microscopic world. Bacteriophages are viruses that target bacteria,rather than human, plant or animal cells.
For every bacteria, there is a phage that likes to latch on to them, take over their lifeprocesses and multiply. The baby phages then burst out to attack other nearby targets, killing thehost cell.
OmniLytics said the its bacteriophage product for E. coli can also be used to treat holding areas,transportation vehicles, containers and living quarters.
"The USDA's approval of the use of phages as a hide wash continues to validate the broad uses of bacteriophage as a natural, safe and effectivebacterial treatment," stated Justin Reber, the company's president and chief executiveofficer. "Bacteriophage are Mother Nature's way of fighting bacteria with none of the harmful side effects ofantibiotics and chemicals."
Bacteriophage target individual strains and species of bacteria. Unlike indiscriminant broad spectrum antibiotics, the specificity of bacteriophagesallows targeting of harmful bacteria without killing other beneficial microflora or fauna, he said.
Identified in 1917, bacteriophage or "bacteria eaters" are bacterial viruses that are environmentally friendly,biodegradable, and one of many families of viruses that have no effect on non-target organisms, plants, animals or humans.
OmniLytics received the first US registration for a bacteriophage product for its AgriPhage productline in December of 2005. In August of 2006, the FDA also approved the use of bacteriophage as a food additive for the treatmentof Lysteria in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.
"Broad spectrum antibiotics, harsh chemicals and irradiation have created super bugs, pollutants, harmed field workers and have even lowered thequality of some food products without effectively controlling the harmful bacteria," Reberstated. "We believe phages can succeed as a long-term solution for controlling unwanted bacteria where these old methods havefailed."
Contamination of hides with pathogens such as E. coli is a major problem in slaughtering plants. Cattle can host E. coli without harm.Recent research by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown that pathogens tend to gather on cowhides, which causes problems if the meatbecomes contaminated during hide removal.
USDA researchers also discovered that killing pathogens in hides before removal is an effective way of reducing the risk ofcarcass contamination.
Worldwide food and non-food industries spend about €5.6bn on toxic chemicals that are onlypartially successful in blocking pathogens, according to estimates.
Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan forecast that US demand for antimicrobials - chemicalsused to wash equipment and foods to ensure they are free of food borne pathogens - would reach$215.8m in 2012, from $161.7m in 2005.