North American meat sector target of Listeria technology

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bacteria

Netherlands based company, EBI Food Safety, has announced that it has teamed up with US distributor World Technology Ingredients (WTI) to accelerate the penetration of its GRAS approved phage based product, Listex, into the North American meat and poultry sector.

Dirk de Meester, business development director at EBI, said that Listex received Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 for its use with cheese and was subsequently awarded GRAS affirmation in 2007 for use with all products that are susceptible to Listeria​ including hams, hot dogs, fish and ready-to-eat products.

He told that as WTI has long standing relationships with North American meat and poultry processors as well as comprehensive technical expertise in the control of food pathogens, it is ideally placed to explain the benefits of Listex in this geography.

According to de Meester, Listex kills rather than inhibits the pathogen and in doing so does not affect the organolepetic properties of the food such as taste, texture, odour or colour, thus eliminating any requirement for the trade off between food safety and quality commonly associated with other methods of pathogen reduction.

He said that the phage based product is easy to apply, through spraying or submersion, and is used on meat products such as hot dogs after the post-lethality step; he said it is also recommended for use with fish after the filleting stage to prevent Listeria​ getting a hold.

Recall prevention

With the increasing emphasis by consumers and regulators on food safety, and the prospect of costly recalls, fines and brand damage, processors are constantly on the lookout for quicker and cheaper ways of preventing bacterial contamination of their products.

Canada’s outbreak of listeriosis last summer, which was linked to the deaths of 20 people, was traced to meats producer Maple Leaf’s plant near Toronto.

According to an analysis by Frost & Sullivan, phage technology is poised to become a food industry standard for ensuring products do not leave processing plants laden with dangerous pathogens.


Bacteriophages are natural micro organisms, but have been harnessed only recently for use to enhance food safety.

To food pathogens like Listeria​, bacteriophages are the viral hit squads of the microscopic world. They are viruses that target bacteria, rather than human, plant or animal cells.

For every bacterium, there is a phage that likes to latch on to them, take over their life processes and multiply. The baby phages then burst out to attack other nearby targets, killing the host cell.

EBI Food Safety is also in the process of developing phages against pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, added de Meester.

Related topics: Suppliers

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