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FDA says viruses safe for treating meat

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posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:56 PM

FDA says viruses safe for treating meat


WASHINGTON (AP) — A mix of bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials said Friday in granting the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.

The combination of six viruses is designed to be sprayed on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, including sliced ham and turkey, said John Vazzana, president and chief executive officer of manufacturer Intralytix Inc.

The special viruses called bacteriophages are meant to kill strains of the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, the Food and Drug Administration said in declaring it safe to use on ready-to-eat meats prior to their packaging.

I happened upon this little gem this afternoon.

This was approved by the FDA back in 2006 but I have never heard of it. Supposedly the science behind this is sound and evidently folks are not dropping like flies from consuming hot dogs, sausages & cold-cuts which are the primary products this is used on.

About 100 years ago in Paris, a type of virus was discovered that eats bacteria. They called it bacteriophages (Greek for "bacteria eater") or phages for short.

These phages are commonly found in our food, water, environment, and even our digestive tracts. The Doctors in Paris thought they had discovered the key to controlling bacteria. But, when antibiotics were discovered the research into phages was almost abandoned, but not quite.

In the Soviet Union, the research continued and institutes were set up to develop therapies using these bacteria eating virus.

Today we have a growing medical problem with the appearance of antibiotic resistant germs. Some Western researchers are revisiting phages (the germ eating viruses) as an alternative or supplement to conventional bacteria-fighting therapies.

One business that is making use of this research is a company called Intralytix, Inc. based in Baltimore, MD, USA.

I thought that some of you might find this interesting.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:01 PM
Dagnabbit. Was I just really messed up for that long?

I really wish you hadn't of shared that with us. I like a little bit of processed meat every now and then.

Well....I DID.....

Thanks, I guess.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:11 PM
reply to post by KSPigpen

Even though this process is supposedly safe, it does seem to have a certain "macabre" element to it, does it not!

I have always said that most people really have no idea how robust their immune system is.

I speak from the perspective of being a chef of 17yrs. you would not believe what goes on in some kitchens!

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:15 PM
I see nothing wrong with this. They are native to our own body afterall. Then again, so is e. coli and we all know what happens when we reintroduce it. Still though, its a big jump from bacteria to a human so it should be completely safe but I'd keep running tests here and there just to keep an eye on it.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:20 PM
Well, one less reason for processed meat cutters to keep their factories clean I guess.

It's like slathering antibacterials on your hand to kill or wound the nasty stuff instead of washing it off your hand with good old soap and water.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:22 PM

Last year I discovered that I can no longer eat lunchmeat, hotdogs, and most sausages or I get an irregular heartbeat.

For over 30 years that was never a problem. I wonder.....

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:48 PM
reply to post by infolurker

That is rather interesting. I wonder if that condition could be at all linked to the fact that many of those products when produced commercially also contain sodium nitrate as a preservative?

Below is what is listed on the Material Safety Data Sheet on sodium nitrate:

Chronic Exposure: Under some circumstances methemoglobinemia occurs in individuals when the nitrate is converted by bacteria in the stomach to nitrite.

Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, rapid heart beat, irregular breathing, convulsions, coma, and death can occur should this conversion take place.

Food for thought....

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 05:00 PM
Will this be another way of eliminating weaker strains of bacteria leaving super dooper death types?

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 09:39 PM
reply to post by Now_Then

The more I read about this science the more fascinating I find it!

I do not know all of the particulars of this process and if indeed it is possible to apply this viral tech to all bacteria, but if that is so then it would seem that this could potentially have broad applications in combating bacteriologicaly induced illnesses!

Bacteriaphages are grown in a preparation of the same bacteria they are designed to kill, and then purified.

According to Intralytix, typical phages have hollow heads that store their viral DNA and tunnel tails with tips that bind to specific molecules on the surface of their target bacteria.

The viral DNA is injected through the tail into the host cell, where it directs the production of progeny phages. These "young" phages burst from the host cell, thereby destroying it, and go on to infect more bacteria.

The viruses will not kill any organism other than their target bacteria.

Perhaps some of our fellow ATS'rs with a medical background can interject a more knowledgeable light to this noble exploration.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 09:57 PM
Well I'm aware that viruses are quite often manipulated as 'vectors' - or you know delivery systems, I don't claim to understand it - do you watch that Regonosis? It's a series, like a version of CSI but with scientists chasing down outbreaks and stuff... Well they quite often go on about how they can save the day using a virus to deliver a bit of DNA or something

I think viruses are much much smaller that the bacteria - I could be wrong... I just hope things work like they are supposed to - any life form of any size usually has a few unexpected tricks

How do we know weather years down the line some one figures a way to make this harmful? Imagine everyone suddenly getting AIDS or Ebola variants from Dhelli counter cold meats....

I can't really think about that stuff - I love eating and I eat spontaneously more often than not - I decide I want a subway roll I'm just gonna go and buy one!

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 10:09 PM

Originally posted by Now_Then

I think viruses are much much smaller that the bacteria - I could be wrong... I just hope things work like they are supposed to - any life form of any size usually has a few unexpected tricks

How do we know weather years down the line some one figures a way to make this harmful? Imagine everyone suddenly getting AIDS or Ebola variants from Dhelli counter cold meats....

Yes I agree that the possibility of viral mutation could possibly pose unintended health risks and I do believe that they are smaller than bacteria. Don't periods of high solar radiation contribute to viral mutation?

And the horror of this tech being applied in a deliberately menacing fashion(as a weapon?) is incredibly frightening indeed!

This is something that I shall strive to extend my knowledge of!

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 10:43 PM
Yes, viruses are typically much smaller than bacteria, with few exceptions. High solar radiation could contribute to mutation in viruses, but most genetic mutations simply occur during the viral replication process. The molecular machinery viruses use to replicate in the host cell tend to proofread poorly. RNA viruses are far more susceptible to mutations than DNA viruses due to the differences in the molecular machinery (simply put, DNA has proofreading mechanisms that can fix errors whereas RNA typically does not).

But that is all an aside to the topic at hand. The main idea here is that bacteriophages (or bacteria eating viruses) are being used as a sort of alternative to antibiotics or other anti-bacterial treatments. You don't have to worry about these types of viruses infecting you as our cells are very very different from bacterial cells. No amount of mutation will ever result in these bacteriophages making you sick by infecting you.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 09:34 PM

Originally posted by casualburger

No amount of mutation will ever result in these bacteriophages making you sick by infecting you.

In that case, I am yet again impressed with the implementation of this science!

I always welcome any reason to feel more confident in an agency like the FDA.

That division of our government, IMO has one of the most profound effects on our day to day lives than most others.

Thank ALL of you for your contributions.

I believe that it goes without saying that some individuals could apply a highly warped and agenda based bastardization of the application of this process and use that to justify a considerable amount of unsubstantiated fear mongering.

I continue to welcome anyone's additional, pertinent input to this thread

posted on Jul, 24 2009 @ 09:37 AM
In case anyone is interested, below is a link to the FAQ page of the company that manufactures bacteriophages for use in controlling bacterial pathogens in environmental, food processing, and medical settings.

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