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U.S. Scientists Discover Natural Agent That Kills Bacteria in Food

August 14, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS – U.S. scientists discovered a naturally-occurring agent that destroys the bacteria that cause meat, fish, eggs and dairy products to rot.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported the discovery of bisin — a naturally-occurring compound produced by some types of bacteria.

The agent reduces the growth of bacteria including E. coli, salmonella and listeria and could lead to sandwiches that stay fresh for more than a year, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

The discovery also means that opened wine and products such as fresh salad dressing could last much longer — in some cases for as long as several years.

It could also lead to a reduction in the amount of food wasted and thrown away each year.

Bisin was discovered by University of Minnesota microbiologist Dan O’Sullivan.

“It [bisin] seems to be much better than anything which has gone before,” O’Sullivan said. “It doesn’t compromise nutrient quality. We are not adding a chemical — we are adding a natural ingredient.”

Because bisin is chemically related to nisin, which is used to keep processed cheese sterile and edible for decades, it does not need to be pharmaceutically tested and could be on the market within a year.

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