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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 Sep;76(3):513-9. Epub 2007 Jun 7.

Application of bacteriophages for detection and control of foodborne pathogens.

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Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, ETH Zurich, Schmelzbergstrasse 7, CH-8092, Zurich, Switzerland.


The incidence of foodborne infectious diseases is stable or has even increased in many countries. Consequently, our awareness regarding hygiene measures in food production has also increased dramatically over the last decades. However, even today's modern production techniques and intensive food-monitoring programs have not been able to effectively control the problem. At the same time, increased production volumes are distributed to more consumers, and if contaminated, potentially cause mass epidemics. Accordingly, research directed to improve food safety has also been taken forward, also exploring novel methods and technologies. Such an approach is represented by the use of bacteriophage for specific killing of unwanted bacteria. The extreme specificity of phages renders them ideal candidates for applications designed to increase food safety during the production process. Phages are the natural enemies of bacteria, and can be used for biocontrol of bacteria without interfering with the natural microflora or the cultures in fermented products. Moreover, phages or phage-derived proteins can also be used to detect the presence of unwanted pathogens in food or the production environments, which allows quick and specific identification of viable cells. This review intends to briefly summarize and explain the principles and current standing of these approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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