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Food additives

FDA approves viruses as food additive in processed meats

Monday, August 21, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: food additives, food safety, grocery warning


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(NewsTarget) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a food additive to be used on meat products such as cold cuts and hot dogs, which contains six types of viruses meant to kill bacteria.

The virus mixture would be sprayed onto meat products, where it would target the pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which infects about 3,000 people a year and results in 500 deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most at-risk groups include pregnant women and their fetuses, older people and people with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, it can lead to confusion, loss of balance, convulsions and stiff neck.

The FDA says the spray-on viruses -- produced by Baltimore-based Intralytix -- only target Listeria and do not affect any other bacteria. Though the agency was initially concerned that the viruses would leave behind residue after its use, it says testing did not reveal any residues.

Andrew Zajac of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety says the virus spray shouldn't affect the quality of the products on which it is used, and consumers likely won't notice a difference in color or taste.

Intralytix is currently seeking FDA approval of another virus food additive meant to kill the E. coli bacteria.

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