Protecting foods from salmonella

Published: Aug. 5, 2011 at 10:14 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 14, 2014 at 3:02 AM CST
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Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered a way to protect foods from harmful bacteria such as salmonella.

Professor Dan O'Sullivan discovered the first natural preservative found to kill gram-negative bacteria.  O'Sullivan said, "Currently we do not have a lot of natural things available that food manufacturers can put into the food to protect against E. Coli and salmonella, and when we uncovered this particular antibiotic.  We found that it was able to inhibit E. Coli."

It started while researching the genome of bacteria, but O'Sullivan saw something more. "That's the beauty of genomics because you see the potential."  A peptide, produced by a harmless bacteria, could be added to meats, egg and dairy products, and more to kill harmful bacteria.

All of this research was done at the Cargill building on the University of Minnesota campus. Cargill is the same company that just recalled 36 million pounds of turkey due to a salmonella outbreak

Twenty-six states are affected by the outbreak so far. "It's essentially an extra assurance we can give to the food manufacturers because currently that is a weakness in the food system."   It's an assurance that still has a ways to go to figure out how to produce this peptide effectively.  Once they solve that question, O'Sullivan says they can essentially go beyond the lab to commercial companies to mass produce it.

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