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Food Spoilage: A Thing of the Past?

September 20, 2011

When you think of foods that have a near infinite shelf-life you may think of honey, soy sauce, or Twinkies. But now, even foods known to spoil quickly like milk and deli meats may be able to stay rot-free for years (that’s right, YEARS), according to new research. How is this possible? Enter the bacteria known as bisin, a preservative that occurs naturally in some types of bacteria that was stumbled upon by scientists at the University of Minnesota while researching organisms that populate the human gut.

Just how promising is this preservative? For one, it is naturally-occurring and so far has been reported to be safe for use. Even better, this preservative has been shown to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. It is thought that this discovery could potentially extend the shelf-life of meat, dairy products, fish, and eggs from weeks to years. Bisin, however, only acts as a preservative for fresh proteins found in products like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs and not foods like fruits and vegetables as these types of foods decompose differently.

At this time, more research is needed before any real-world applications are seen but the research thus far is very promising. If bisin proves to be a good as advertised, this could result in significant reductions in food waste, food-borne illness, and possibly even a reduction in certain food costs.

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