Microbiologist discovers new super-preservative

Aug 17, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- In one of those freak accidents that sometimes occur in science, where someone is looking at something for one purpose and finds another for it, Dan O'Sullivan has found a use for a byproduct of harmless bacteria commonly found in the human gut; called bisin, it appears to work as a sort of super-preservative for meat, dairy and eggs, allowing them to go unspoiled for perhaps years.

Dr. Dan O'Sullivan, a working at the University of Minnesota claims to have found the bacteria killing properties of bisin, while doing basic research on bacteria that live in the .

Chemically related to nisin, a already used in cheese, bisin apparently kills E. coli, salmonella and listeria so effectively that foods (not fruits or vegetables though, since different biology is at work in their ) that have been treated with it could, in theory, last almost indefinitely. And because it is so closely related to nisin, it won’t have to undergo scrutiny before being put into foods. O’Sullivan, who already has a patent on it, has announced that he believes products with nisin in it should begin appearing on grocer’s shelves within three years. Others are even more optimistic, suggesting that the time frame could actually be as short as just one year.

In either case, there are of course some questions still to be answered. The first might be, is it truly as safe as claimed, though that seems likely due to the fact that it already exists in the human body. Another question might be, does it affect taste? And finally, how is it to be integrated into food? Surely just sprinkling or pouring it over a steak before packaging wouldn’t do. To combat bacterium that has wound its way into the meat would seem to require something more pervasive.

There is also the matter of the impact of other elements on food that impact its ability to last; hydration levels, for example, contribute greatly to its general makeup and texture. It’s hard to imagine simply adding a preservative to natural ingredients would allow cookies or cakes to remain palatable after just a couple of days.

Still, it is an exciting development. The idea of milk that doesn’t spoil, cake batter that can be eaten without fear for the raw eggs in it, meat that never sours, or tuna fish or egg salad sandwiches that can be packed and eaten anywhere, anytime, seems almost unimaginable.

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User comments : 45

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epsi00
3.7 / 5 (9) Aug 17, 2011
Now if the author of the study can explain just why people still die from E. coli, salmonella and listeria every year. Could it be that they do not have the required level of bisin in their guts?
rawa1
1 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2011
I'm just interested, when it turns out, that bisin is actually carcinogenic, addictive, radioactive...
Techno1
2 / 5 (6) Aug 17, 2011
I'm just interested, when it turns out, that bisin is actually carcinogenic, addictive, radioactive...


Radioactive is a non-issue, but carcinogenic and/or addictive might be an issue.

I don't know what the levels would be in the human gut, or how much it would be elevated by using mass production of these nisins and bisins to preserve foods, but it would clearly serve as some degree of elevation in the levels.

As a food preservative, that could be anywhere from several milligrams to maybe a gram or more per serving! Just think about SALT!

So clearly, it would elevate the levels in the human gut by anywhere from several milligrams to perhaps several grams on any given day.

Then there's other issues, like when the human body breaks down these compounds, what fats, sugars, or protiens are created by the by-products, and are those by-products potentially harmful to human health if found in un-naturally elevated levels?
Ojorf
3.3 / 5 (8) Aug 17, 2011
Now if the author of the study can explain just why people still die from E. coli, salmonella and listeria every year. Could it be that they do not have the required level of bisin in their guts?


It's not the E. coli that kills you, cooking food kills all the bacteria in any case, it the byproducts of their metabolism, not affected by cooking, that is poisonous.
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2011
A much better alternative to irradiation and other methods. I like this idea, especially after doing a little research into it. Otoh, being a chef, I do not like the idea of keeping food around for great lengths of time, who really needs to keep cheese or meat in the fridge for 2 years ? What about aged steaks/other meats, which require some internal degradation by microbes in order to reach a proper cure ?

Idk,...I am going to have to see more research into this in order to be sold on it.

Here's some info for you guys.

http://www.licens...178.aspx
SurfAlbatross
5 / 5 (8) Aug 17, 2011
who really needs to keep cheese or meat in the fridge for 2 years ?


Astronauts
sstritt
3.7 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2011
This works by preventing bacterial growth but I don't see how it could prevent rancidity caused by oxidation.
Isaacsname
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2011
who really needs to keep cheese or meat in the fridge for 2 years ?


Astronauts

Maybe, but imo, by the time we are making 2 year space trips we will be assembling most food molecule by molecule.
David_Wishengrad
1.2 / 5 (18) Aug 17, 2011
Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Spock, M.D., Brian Greene, Cesar Chavez, Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Ford, Jesus Christ, John Gordon Sinclair, John Lennon, Leo Tolstoy, Leonard Nimoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, Martin Luther, Nikola Tesla, Paramahansa Yogananda, Plato, Pythagoras, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Saint Francesco d'Assisi, Sir Isaac Newton, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Voltaire
If you are not a vegetarian, please ask yourself why you would think different than them, and compare your notes to theirs. See what holds water. It is time for the lies to stop. If you do not have notes to back up your position, perhaps you have not given an issue, which was stated as the most imporant thing humans could do by many of them, the proper time and consideration it deserves.
Shamus123
5 / 5 (8) Aug 17, 2011
I am not a vegetarian, and niether are millions of other people for every 1 you listed. compare notes? how bout this note: A nice fat new york strip is delicious!
barakn
1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2011
It's not the E. coli that kills you, cooking food kills all the bacteria in any case, it the byproducts of their metabolism, not affected by cooking, that is poisonous.

E. coli, salmonella and listeria kill people by infecting them. Foods are most dangerous specifically when under-cooked and therefore bearing live bacteria.
2020
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2011
, Jesus Christ, John Lennon, Martin Luther, Nikola Tesla, Paramahansa Yogananda, Plato, , Saint Francesco d'Assisi, Sir Isaac Newton, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Voltaire
If you are not a vegetarian.

Wha? Fish don't count?? Jesus not only ate meat/fish...HE BLOODY INVENTED IT!!!
word-to-ya-muthas!
david_42
not rated yet Aug 17, 2011
If you are not a vegetarian,


You are much less likely to die from infected lettuce, sprouts, etc.
Silverhill
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2011
A much better alternative to irradiation and other methods.
What's wrong with sterilizing food via irradiation? You don't have to worry about breakdown products, as you might with bisin/nisin.
sstritt
3.9 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2011
, Jesus Christ, John Lennon, Martin Luther, Nikola Tesla, Paramahansa Yogananda, Plato, , Saint Francesco d'Assisi, Sir Isaac Newton, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Voltaire
If you are not a vegetarian.

Wha? Fish don't count?? Jesus not only ate meat/fish...HE BLOODY INVENTED IT!!!
word-to-ya-muthas!

Don't know much about that Parmesan Yogurt guy, but I once witnessed Nicola Tesla bite the head off a live chicken! Wait, that might have been his brother Ozzie. Never mind.
Dug
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2011
There are a variety of ways food spoil beside through bacterial and fungal infestation. Bake goods, sauces for example change flavors as the fats and oils oxidize in them. Some foods undergo enzymatic break down. The topic of the article is a very specific solution to only a very limited part of the food spoilage problem.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Aug 17, 2011
A much better alternative to irradiation and other methods.
What's wrong with sterilizing food via irradiation? You don't have to worry about breakdown products, as you might with bisin/nisin.

Mainly because once you irradiate fruits/veggies, you stop any further ripening processes. There's a fair amount of complex chemical changes that occur after you harvest something, this process used to be called " ripening ". However, with the introduction of environmentally/atmospherically controlled warehouses and irradiation, ripening is put on hold and faked before sale, often with exposure to things like Ethylene gas. Point is, bisin is better because it will still allow natural ripening processes after harvest, which is important to nutritional quality of the food we eat.

And, there's something to be said about the tasteless produce most people eat. It's like they don't know any better because they've never had something to show the contrast in quality.
Urgelt
3.2 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2011
Ah... It is *not* obvious that marinating meat in a bacterial toxin must necessarily be safe for humans merely because trace amounts are already present in the gut.

This is one of those cases where "prove it's safe before using it" is a very good idea.
Caliban
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 17, 2011
The question is: if bisin inhibits -or possibly kills- normal gut flora and fauna, then what happens when the level of this substance is suddenly increased by several orders of magnitude?

Will people who consume bisin-treated food products suddenly become sufferers of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome, maybe Colitis and/or Crohn's disease, yeast overgrowth...you name it-- to boot?

I don't know about you folks, but I wouldn't touch this crap with a 30 foot proctoscope until or unless it underwent a human-subjects clinical trials protocol to determine safety.

Does anyone remember Olestra(TM)?
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2011
God bless Government funded science.
Thex1138
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Big Mac's that can be stored in tin sheds for a decade... hurray for everlasting junk food!
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
@Caliban and @Urgelt - thats why there will still be testing done on it. Even in the author's most perfect future, it is still a year away from approval. They will be testing the bejesus out of this, and even then if you have doubts about long term effects buy the organic variety until 20 years go by.

The topic of the article is a very specific solution to only a very limited part of the food spoilage problem.

1 - read the article, the authors specifically admitted this already.
2 - well damn, i guess since it isn't a cure all/miracle drug/panacea-in-a-bottle/creator-of-world-peace, then who the hell cares? right?
cyberCMDR
4 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2011
Given that human health depends on gut flora, this could have unintended consequences. What about other possibilities? Use it in wound dressings, or on severe burns.
hb_
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
@fmfbrestel.

It is still on trial, but a year for testing is not really enough for a clinical trial. Not by a long shot.

With medicin, one generally starts with animal testing, then moves on to a small group of people, and then finaly a larger one. All in all, this process takes something like a decade. This is the foremost reason why developing medicins is so expensive.

So, if they are planning to market the substance within three years, then it will most likely NOT be tested thoroughly.
hb_
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
I think it would be a bad idea to use any bactericide on foodstuff. To use the medicine in special cases to kill of bacteria as a treatment, fine, but to use it to protect vegetables would only make it certain that even more multi-resistant bacteria develop.

Allready now, farmers are using penicillin - not to treat actual cases of disease - but as a blanket measure to promote growth in animals. As a consequence, drug resistant bacteria are increasing rapidly, since there are trace amounts in the meat that we eat. Let us not make this mistake again!
Ortzmet
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
@Issacsname and @hb - Fruits and vegetables are not included among the items expected to be treated with bisin. A different process is involved in their decomposition.
Sin_Amos
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
"And, there's something to be said about the tasteless produce most people eat. It's like they don't know any better because they've never had something to show the contrast in quality." The difference is astounding, as now my palette detects the artificial flavors of most processed beyond foods. Growing your own produce is the first step to understanding true flavor.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2011
"And, there's something to be said about the tasteless produce most people eat. It's like they don't know any better because they've never had something to show the contrast in quality." The difference is astounding, as now my palette detects the artificial flavors of most processed beyond foods. Growing your own produce is the first step to understanding true flavor.
True flavor of artificial foods is certainly overrated. Nothing of what you grow in your garden is natural. It is all the product of countless generations of selection for quantity over quality.

You want genuine flavor? Eat weeds. My grandmother used to make a great dandelion salad.
Javinator
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
Big Mac's that can be stored in tin sheds for a decade... hurray for everlasting junk food!


They've already got those: http://www.slashf...-burger/
David_Wishengrad
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2011
Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Spock, M.D., Brian Greene, Cesar Chavez, Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Ford, Jesus Christ, John Gordon Sinclair, John Lennon, Leo Tolstoy, Leonard Nimoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, Martin Luther, Nikola Tesla, Paramahansa Yogananda, Plato, Pythagoras, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Saint Francesco d'Assisi, Sir Isaac Newton, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Voltaire
If you are not a vegetarian, please ask yourself why you would think different than them, and compare your notes to theirs. See what holds water. It is time for the lies to stop. If you do not have notes to back up your position, perhaps you have not given an issue, which was stated as the most imporant thing humans could do by many of them, the proper time and consideration it deserves.

@Shamus123
Yes, you are. 100 scientific observations are easily stated to prove it, yet there are 0, to the contrary.
David_Wishengrad
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Don't know much about that Parmesan Yogurt guy, but I once witnessed Nicola Tesla bite the head off a live chicken! Wait, that might have been his brother Ozzie. Never mind..

So now you are saying you are smarter than all of those people?
Any person that cannot acknowlege this scientific fact first, is too damaged to properly think and unfit to lead anyone in regard to science. Ignoring observed facts is not science.
David_Wishengrad
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
, Jesus Christ, John Lennon, Martin Luther, Nikola Tesla, Paramahansa Yogananda, Plato, , Saint Francesco d'Assisi, Sir Isaac Newton, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Voltaire
If you are not a vegetarian.

Wha? Fish don't count?? Jesus not only ate meat/fish...HE BLOODY INVENTED IT!!!
word-to-ya-muthas!

Since when did the bible become a scientific book? You are just going to have to accept the fact that you have been lied to for your whole life about this, or you will never actually be yourself any time in your life time. It is called brainwashing and millions and millions suffer from it and then cannot think properly after being poisioned.
icuvd
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 18, 2011

Since when did the bible become a scientific book?

What's with you? Whoever said the Bible was a science book? The guy was responding to YOU for saying that Jesus was a vegetarian. I believe that the Bible is the only source of information we have available about the person known as Jesus, and there is no mention of this fact, and as was pointed out, there is a story about Jesus feeding the masses with bread AND fishes. I think it is you who cannot think properly.
Dashiell
3 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2011
What's with you? Whoever said the Bible was a science book? The guy was responding to YOU for saying that Jesus was a vegetarian. I believe that the Bible is the only source of information we have available about the person known as Jesus, and there is no mention of this fact, and as was pointed out, there is a story about Jesus feeding the masses with bread AND fishes. I think it is you who cannot think properly.


I think it's pretty clear that David isn't all there. No need to encourage him to continue posting his nonsense about an unrelated subject to this article.
Howard_Vickridge
5 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2011
I'm always relieved when i see someone walking around in an aluminium-foil hat. The hat's essential purpose is to keep the crazy IN; someone's hat is leaking.
Howard_Vickridge
3 / 5 (2) Aug 19, 2011
Possibilities like this are very exciting and whiz-bang, and many serve humanity well. However, using bisin to preserve protein foods on a commercial scale just accelerates humanity's lemming run to drylands, soil infertility, bigger dustbowls, dependency on industry and myriad other consequences. It's the solution to a problem we needn't have. Kids need to know what cow-pats smell like, squish their chilly-morning toes into a fresh warm
Moebius
3 / 5 (4) Aug 19, 2011
Here comes genetically engineered stuff that produces it so it doesn't have to be added.
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2011
Kids need to know what cow-pats smell like, squish their chilly-morning toes into a fresh warm


Comes from a fool who either doesn't know what cow pats smell like, or perhaps you're so damn far behind the times yo don't realize that no, they don't need to know what cow pats smell like.

I hope to God I never have to again.

And moveover, you teaching somone how to farm doesn't help 90% of young people get a real job, unless you WANT them to be damn near minimum wage earners for the remainders of their lives.

Idiot.
stealthc
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2011
a preservative that kills bacteria? What about the natural bacteria in your stomach how are they gunna like this preservative? Yeah it already exists in the human body (if I take this article face value) however, not in such large quantities. And the proposal is to fast track this through fda approval because of the price of tea in china?
TechnoCore
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2011
I think this could really result in huge energy/environmental/money savings. My guess is that a pretty big part of all produced foods are spoiled sooner than we would like too. Also the effect on the health of humans from eating bad food.
I know food preservation is a big problem in many poor countries. Where you haven't got or cannot afford proper refrigeration systems at home or during transports.

As a side note I just need to take a look in my own fridge. Sadly I would estimate I throw away 30% of what I buy because it goes bad too soon. At least when I try to cook proper meals.
TehDog
not rated yet Aug 21, 2011
Kids need to know what cow-pats smell like, squish their chilly-morning toes into a fresh warm


Comes from a fool who either doesn't know what cow pats smell like, or perhaps you're so damn far behind the times yo don't realize that no, they don't need to know what cow pats smell like.

Too bloody right, evil things they are. Especially the ones with a crust that makes you think it's solid...
Horse manure on the other hand, great for the garden and not too hard on the nostrils :)
Humpty
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2011
Jesus Christ our saviour and lord, he was gay, vegan and jewish - and look what happened to him!

It only goes to prove that meat is essential in the diet - even if it is the meat from dead people.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Aug 22, 2011
[qAnd moveover, you teaching somone how to farm doesn't help 90% of young people get a real job, unless you WANT them to be damn near minimum wage earners for the remainders of their lives.

Idiot. (Quote Nanobanano)

Wrong. Before you call someone an idiot online you should know what you are talking about. You can easily pull 60k off one acre with hard work and smart practices. People like Booker T. Whatley, another forgotten-about black scientist, easily demonstrated this, and that was in the 70's.

Just because somebody is a farmer does not make them an inbred hay-sucking hick with no future.
David_Wishengrad
not rated yet Aug 22, 2011
http://www.cnn.co...of.diet/
The real perservitive is to eat correctly.
sstritt
1 / 5 (2) Aug 22, 2011
Just because somebody is a farmer does not make them an inbred hay-sucking hick with no future.

And don't forget that for the entirety of human civilization, with the exception of the last 2 generations, the vast majority of people had to grow, hunt or gather their own food. We take our remarkable progress for granted, but the thin veneer of modern life could be gone as quickly as it came about. Then the survivors would be those who knew how to grow their own food.

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