New research conducted at the University of Nevada, Reno in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources has reduced Salmonella bacteria in meat products by 90%. Assistant Professor Amilton de Mello is using bacteriophages, which are natural predators of the microorganisms.
Professor de Mello said, “we were able to reduce Salmonella by as much as 90% in ground poultry, ground pork, and ground beef. We’re excited to be able to show such good results. Food safety is an important part of our work and Salmonella is one of the most prevalent bacteria in the nation’s food supply.”
Salmonella food poisoning sickens one million Americans every year, hospitalizes 19,000 and kills almost 400. It is one of the most common causes of food poisoning worldwide.
The research treated meat products that were inoculated with four types of Salmonella by applying Myoviridae bacteriophages during mixing. these viruses only harm bacterial cells and do not hurt people, animals, or plants. The viruses require bacteria to replicate.
de Mello continued, “on the final ground meat products, there was a 10-fold decrease of Salmonella. The results are very encouraging and we’re hoping this can be adopted by the meat industry to increase food safety.” The research was presented to the American Meat Science Association’s conference in San Angelo, Texas last week.
Currently, there is one Salmonella outbreak in the US. One is linked to Ajuua’s Mexican restaurant in Odessa Texas, which may have sickened 22 people. Two people are hospitalized in that outbreak. Last year, a Salmonella outbreak linked to roast pork in Washington state sickened at least 192 people.