Poison-proof dairy products 'on sale in five years'

YOGHURTS and soft cheeses that kill food-poisoning microbes before they can grow could be on supermarket shelves within five years, scientists said yesterday.

Researchers have manipulated the genes of the harmless lactic acid bacteria used to ferment dairy products so they produce a toxin that destroys listeria - a food poison that has caused many deaths. The hope is that badly stored yoghurts or cheeses that would normally be prone to listeria infection would be able to fight off attack as their own harmless bacteria begin to grow.

Scientists at the Norwich laboratory of the Institute of Food Research say the research is in its infancy and that it needs both commerical exploitation and approval from regulatory authorities before the breakthrough could be incorporated into products.

Mike Gasson, head of genetics at Norwich, said that with adequate funding it may be possible to develop listeria-destroying dairy products within five years, although 'it's still at the laboratory stage'. He and his colleagues have already produced genetically modified lactic acid bateria that produce a toxin which destroys listeria. 'It's incredibly powerful in its effect,' he said.

The toxin occurs naturally in viruses that specifically attack and infect listeria. It was an enzyme that dissolved the cell wall of the microbe, Professor Douglas G eorgala, director of the institute, said.

The scientists identified the gene responsible for the toxic enzyme and inserted it into lactic acid bacteria. 'It's now shown to be feasible to find the genes that can smash up listeria,' he said.

'In live dairy products you would be using a living organism as a fail-safe if something went wrong.' The scientists also hope to design food that can fight against infection with salmonella bacteria. He added: 'You'd have to design a separate method. We've not yet done that.'

Professor Georgala has contributed to a report on new developments in food and agricultural biotechnology, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which describes other potential uses for genetically manipulated lactic acid bacteria.

It says they may be used as preservatives outside the traditional area of fermented food: 'It may well be that these lactic bacteria incorporated in a food could provide a fail-safe capacity, whereby if the food was abused by storage at the wrong temperature or for too long, the special lactic bacteria would grow and provide specific protection against undesirable food poisoning bacteria such as the listeria or botulinum.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas