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US army awards funding for antimicrobial agent

By Jane Byrne , 24-Nov-2008
Last updated on 24-Nov-2008 at 16:36 GMT

A new phage-based technology aimed at eliminating or reducing contamination of red meat and fresh produce by E. coli 0157:H7 has received a development grant from the US Army, according to its developer, Intralytix.

The company said the funding for its food additive, ECP 100, is part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants process awarded by the Army to support the transition of products into the marketplace.

John Vazzana, chief executive officer of Intralytix, said that the bacteriophage cocktail has been tested effective against over 100 strains of E. coli 0157:H7, and could be sprayed onto red meats, fruit and vegetables to inhibit contamination by the pathogen.

ECP 100 is the second phage-based food safety product developed by the company.

Anti-listeria phage

The biotechnology firm recently announced that its product, LMP-102 received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive effective against Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat foods.

Vazzana told FoodProductionDaily.com at the time that the EPA registration enables food manufacturers to use LMP-102 on food processing equipment as well as on ready-to-eat food products.

He said that the antimicrobial agent can be sprayed onto equipment and food produce such as coleslaw, unpasteurized cheese, pasteurized milk, delicatessen and other types of meat products.

"As LMP-102 is an all natural product it will not corrode or damage equipment nor alter a food product's general composition, taste, odour or colour," said Vazzana.

Competitive pricing

Vazzana said that that LMP-102 is more costly than some chemicals but that it is competitively priced in comparison to other types of antimicrobial interventions.

He said that commercial sales of the phage-based product have recently commenced in the US but that Intralytix intends to expand into other markets and is seeking regulatory approval in the EU.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 76 million people get sick, 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die in the US from foodborne illness annually.

Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli 0157:H7 are two of the seven foodborne organisms causing these problems, claims Intralytix.

E. coli meat test

Meanwhile a newly developed E.coli tool from Canadian company Vacci-Test, FoodChek E.coli, uses magnetic nanotechnology and a proprietary, inexpensive and easy-to-use magnetic reader that provides a very sensitive, specific and quantitative test result, claims the manufacturer.

The company said that the E.coli tool has successfully completed field trials in two meat processing plants: “The field trials have shown that it can accurately test for E.coli O157:H7 in less than 6 hours.”

Sandy MacPherson, chairman of the executive operating committee of Vacci-Test, said that the E.coli testing tool will have “a major impact for both regulatory agencies and meat-processors. Potential food contaminants such as E.coli O157:H7 can now be tested on site and identified prior to the end of a production shift.”

Vaccine

And Econiche, a new vaccine for cattle that aims to reduce the risk of food and waterborne contamination from E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, recently received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Econiche can now be used by Canadian cattle producers and veterinarians, according to Bioniche.

The development will be of huge interest to meat processors as recalls linked to bacterial contamination can cause illness, as well as being costly and brand damaging.

The company said its vaccine works by preventing the E. coli O157:H7 organism from attaching to the intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released through cattle manure in the environment.

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