FDA OKs using viruses to fight Listeria in meat

first_imgAug 22, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – US health officials broke new ground last week by approving the use of a mixture of bacteriophages, or bacteria-killing viruses, to control the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that a mixture of six bacteriophages developed by Intralytix, Inc., Baltimore, is safe to use. The product, called LMP 102, is the first bacteriophage preparation approved for use as a food additive.The product is intended to be sprayed on RTE meats such as sliced ham and turkey. Each of the bacteriophages in it targets various L monocytogenes strains, and the use of six different phages is intended to reduce the risk that Listeria would develop resistance, according to the FDA record of its decision on the product.Phages infect only bacteria and are part of the normal microbial population of the human intestinal tract, according to the FDA. L monocytogenes can grow at refrigerator temperatures and can cause serious illness, particularly in pregnant women, newborns, and people with weak immunity.The phages in LMP 102 are grown in Listeria cultures, the FDA said. In examining the product’s safety, the agency looked at whether it contains any potentially harmful Listeria residues, particularly one called Listeriolysin O (LLO). Investigators did not detect LLO in the product, and mechanisms in the gut would be likely to inactivate any trace amount present.The report also says that some phages can serve to transfer toxin or drug-resistance genes between bacterial cells, but the phages used in LMP 102 are not that kind.The FDA document does not say exactly how effective the product is in reducing Listeria on RTE meats. But John Vazzana, president and CEO of Intralytix, said that in company tests, LMP 102 has reduced Listeria by 99% to 99.9% (2 to 3 logs) on foods with relatively high levels of contamination.”We concluded from those tests that we could basically get rid of 99% of any LM [L monocytogenes] that’s present,” Vazzana told CIDRAP News.He said Intralytix has licensed the product to a multinational company that serves the food processing industry, but declined to name it. “I would think we’re probably 6 months away from the product being used commercially,” he said.The FDA said its action signals only that the product meets the safety standards of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The product must also comply with meat and poultry inspection laws that are administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which require that food additives be “suitable” for their intended use, the agency said.Vazzana said the USDA has been “actively involved” in the FDA review of LMP 102 and that USDA approval is not in doubt. “This is not new to them; they’ve reviewed the petition, they’ve approved the product,” he said.The USDA will be developing guidelines for use of the product, “and that’s a process we’ll be going through over the next several weeks,” he added.Vazzana said the product may have to be listed on food labels, depending on what the USDA decides. He said that shouldn’t scare consumers, given that phages are “the most ubiquitious organisms on the planet today.””I think what we have to communicate to the consumer is that this is an all-natural approach” and that it will affect only Listeria, he said. “We believe this is a much better solution to a serious problem than using hordes of chemicals.”Vazzana estimated that using LMP 102 will add less than a penny a pound to the cost of RTE meat and poultry products.Food safety expert Craig Hedberg, PhD, said he agreed with the FDA that LMP 102 is likely to be safe, but he was cautious in assessing its likely contribution to controlling Listeria. Hedberg is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.”Theoretically, phages make a nice control measure, but the real-world application of these products almost always falls short of the ideal situation,” he told CIDRAP News by e-mail.”This seems to be another tool in the toolkit to control Listeria,” he added. “As such, it gives producers a greater range of options on control. The key to Listeria control is the successful integration of the various tools and careful monitoring of the systems to make sure everything is working as it should.”See also:FDA decision record on LMP 102http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/cf0559.pdflast_img read more

Reflecting on Remembrance Day: One veteran shares his experience

first_imgAs the weather gets cooler and poppies start emerging, a lot of us take time from our regular routines to think of the veterans we know, and the ones we don’t, who have served Canada in combat.For Bill Stevenson, there are months he goes without thinking about the time he spent serving the navy in World War II as a 17 year old boy.“Once poppy season starts, you start reflecting on it,” he said.- Advertisement -Bill grew up in Carman, Manitoba — close to Winnipeg. He and his three brothers all served, and his mother had a flag with four maple leaves in her window, for each of her sons off in war.The opportunity to join the navy came knocking when his friends enlisted at just 17. Bill was working at hardware store at the time, and when his friends came to say goodbye, he naturally got curious.“During the war, a lot of people don’t know this, but the army and the guys who joined the Air Force had to be 18 years old … but you could enlist in the navy at 17 years old,” he said. “With your parent’s consent, of course.”Advertisement He even used to tour the schools here and speak to the children about his experiences in World War II, saying they were incredibly receptive to his stories.“After the war, all the people around in those days, they lived the war, even though they weren’t in it. There wasn’t the excitement of it,” he said. “Now, it’s all remembrance. There’s no reality left, except for the few of us who have just left. the young people know nothing of it. The children … I’m just so amazed at their eagerness to know.”And, judging from the amount of people who came to the Royal Canadian Legion yesterday, Bill says he’s not concerned about future generations forgetting the experience of Canadians in combat, either. During his time in the navy, Bill operated the submarine nets to open and close the gates for their ships in Shelburne Harbour, off the coast of Nova Scotia.“One night, I was operating the ship-shore radio. I got a call from the base, saying that one of our fisherman had reported seeing a German ship 2 miles from us,” he recalled. “It was kind of spooky for a kid off the farm in Manitoba.”Bill has lived in Fort St. John for over 20 years, and now settled into one of the North Peace Senior’s Housing suites.He is heavily involved in the community spending time at the legion and is often seen speaking at events around town.Advertisementlast_img read more