Research discovers possible new natural preservative

by Jeff Gelski
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MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota researchers have discovered and received a patent for a naturally occurring lantibiotic that may be added to food to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and listeria. A harmless bacteria produces the lantibiotic, a peptide. It possibly may be used to prevent harmful bacteria in meats, process cheese, egg products, dairy products, canned foods, seafood, salad dressing and fermented beverages.

“It’s aimed at protecting foods from a broad range of bugs that cause disease,” said Dan O’Sullivan, a professor of food science and nutrition in the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. “Of the natural preservatives, it has a broader umbrella of bugs that it can protect against.”

According to the university, lantibiotics are easy to digest and non-toxic, and they do not induce allergies. The university’s Office for Technology Commercialization is seeking a licensee for the technology.

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