Naturally Occurring Preservative Could Give Fresh Meats a Three-Year Shelf Life

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    Aug 18, 2011 3:27 AM GMT
    http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-08/naturally-occurring-preservative-could-give-fresh-meats-three-year-shelf-life

    Those of us who want to keep meat from spoiling for more than a few weeks have had limited options till now. We can cure it into bacon or sausage; freeze it or dry it; or buy it supermarket-"fresh" in a shrink-wrapped envelope. Now Daniel J. O'Sullivan, a professor at the U. of Minnesota, has a new solution that might keep a piece of meat fresh for years on the shelf.

    Meat spoils in part because of the action of bacteria like E. coli and Lactobacillus. There has been some success in treating meat with an antibacterial compound known as nisin, which works against Gram-positive bacteria such as Lactobacillus, but not the Gram-negatives E. coli and Salmonella. Enter bisin. Bisin is a compound isolated from Bifidobacterium longum, a bacterium that occurs naturally in the human gut; its bactericidal properties extend to both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, and can be applied to meat and dairy products to keep them free from spoilage.
    The discovery stands to have far-reaching effects; the inhibition of food spoilage stands to save lives around the world. But it's important to remember that the solution to the last decades' glut of foodborne illness outbreaks does not lie in raising meat as quickly and cheaply as possible, secure in the knowledge that any contamination can be bisined off later. Marvelous innovations in food preservation technology are not a substitute for clean, safe, intelligent ways of producing food in the first place.

    Dr. Sullivan has acquired a patent on bisin, which is Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA, and is reportedly talking to food producers about getting it to market.
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    Aug 18, 2011 4:19 AM GMT
    That is alarming!!!!
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    Aug 18, 2011 4:48 AM GMT
    I could see this being useful, albeit scary as hell.

    If it does turn out to be safe and effective it could go a long way to giving those in less financial circumstances in 3rd word countries.

    Imagine all the extra food that we produce that gets thrown away.
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    Aug 18, 2011 10:55 AM GMT
    Hmmm. It's isolated from a bacterium that occurs naturally in the human gut.

    My "Soylent Green" alarms are going off, but I'll ignore them to point out that lots of generally recognized as safe and naturally-occurring products have long term complications. Sodium nitrate fits both those descriptions but too much of it is definitely a bad thing.

    Nobody who raises an animal and then slaughters it to feed a family would regard an effective new preservative as a bad thing. But famine's roots are usually related to circumstance such as drought or war which also make raising livestock as chancy as growing a crop.

    This seems like "filler news" designed to produce an interesting headline...

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    Aug 18, 2011 3:13 PM GMT
    Kobaltjak saidHmmm. It's isolated from a bacterium that occurs naturally in the human gut.

    My "Soylent Green" alarms are going off, but I'll ignore them to point out that lots of generally recognized as safe and naturally-occurring products have long term complications. Sodium nitrate fits both those descriptions but too much of it is definitely a bad thing.

    Nobody who raises an animal and then slaughters it to feed a family would regard an effective new preservative as a bad thing. But famine's roots are usually related to circumstance such as drought or war which also make raising livestock as chancy as growing a crop.

    This seems like "filler news" designed to produce an interesting headline...

    Great minds think alike. icon_cool.gif
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    Aug 19, 2011 1:54 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidGreat minds think alike. icon_cool.gif


    I love it when I get credit for thinking.
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    Aug 21, 2011 8:00 AM GMT
    that's disgusting.
    If you want to preserve meat, freeze it.
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    Aug 21, 2011 8:19 AM GMT
    I must be really jaded; my first reaction was that it will allow old meat/poultry/seafood of inferior flavor/texture on the market, thereby benefitting corporations instead of consumers.

    Second reaction was that the major safety-related issues in the food supply chains in developed countries has been about dealing with contaminated vegetables and epidemics amongst livestock, rather than trying to delay food spoilage.