Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

A New Phage May Help Control Pathogens on Fresh-Cut Produce. (EH Update)

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

A New Phage May Help Control Pathogens on Fresh-Cut Produce. (EH Update)

Article excerpt

Those fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in the grocery store are convenient, but they also have the potential to become another channel for human pathogens. So two Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are testing the concept of using phages--viruses that infect and kill only bacteria--to control foodborne pathogens on produce. Early results are promising.

ARS plant pathologists Britta Leverentz and Bill Conway have been the first to test phages on fruits and vegetables. While the peel or rind of intact fruit provides a physical and chemical barrier, microbes can multiply rapidly on cut surfaces, especially if those surfaces are not too acidic.

The scientists are working under a cooperative agreement with Intralytix, of Baltimore, Maryland, which is providing known phages for Salmonella strains as a model. Phages are very selective about their host bacteria. Those specific for Salmonella, for instance, would leave beneficial bacteria free to multiply on freshcut produce and crowd out potential pathogens. …

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