Listeria-busting bacteriophage awaits approval in Australia and New Zealand

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

Listeria-busting bacteriophage awaits approval in Australia and New Zealand
Dutch food safety company Micreos looks poised to gain approval for its Listeria-fighting bacteriophage processing aid in Australasia after safety authorities there said they had no concerns about the product.

The company – formerly known as EBI Food Safety – told that opening up the markets in Australia and New Zealand had the potential to provide significant new revenue streams.

“Food safety awareness is very high in both countries,”​ Micreos CEO Mark Offerhaus said.”We already have approval in Europe, the US, Canada and Asia, so this was a logical extension.”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today launched the first of two public consultation exercises on Listex P100. It has invited comments on the product from the food industry, official bodies and consumers before 1 November, 2011.

Ready-to-eat foods

The Netherlands-based company applied for permission to use the bacteriophage preparation as a processing aid for ready-to-eat foods.

The bacteriophage is designed for use as a spray or dip for targeted application on food products and not as a surface disinfectant or general bactericide within the processing facility, said the agency.

“Processing aids can’t legally be used in food production without a rigorous safety assessment by FSANZ,”​ said the body’s CEO, Steve McCutcheon.

The safety agency said it had already completed the assessment in terms of the product’s efficacy in reducing Listeria monocytogenes on contaminated food and limiting its growth.

Safe and effective

“FSANZ has concluded that the P100 preparation is safe, effective and has no on-going technological function when used under commercial conditions in non-liquid ready-to-eat foods,”​ it added.

The P100 bacteriophage would not infect any other bacteria except Listeria. They are harmless to plants, animals or humans and do not alter the properties of food, disintegrating into natural compounds such as amino acids, said FSANZ.

Bacteriophages, the most abundant biological entities on earth, infect bacteria and multiply inside them until the bacteria breaks down. They are naturally present in high numbers in the environment, in saltwater, freshwater, soil, plants and animals (including people) and food.

McCutcheon said that there would be a second round of public comment later in the application process before a recommendation on the application to the FSANZ Board.

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