Moving America Forward

How Do You Fight Bacteria in the Food Supply?

November 27, 2013
How Do You Fight Bacteria in the Food Supply?
sausage bacteria food chain supply
Flickr, André Mouraux
Just add viruses

Mike Saltzow, who runs the small sausage factory North Country Smokehouse in New Hampshire, is fighting to prevent a dreaded listeria bacteria outbreak by adding a spritz of spray containing virus particles to each batch of sausage. These particles, called bacteriophages, hunt, infect, and eliminate bacteria, but do not target people or animal cells. Doctors have been using bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections for decades, and though most continue to treat these illnesses with antibiotics, the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has encouraged new research into the uses of bacteriophages. Recently, scientists have begun to explore the potential of bacteriophages to prevent food-borne illnesses. Each year, about 3000 Americans die of food-borne illness, and 48 million become sick.