Fresh produce could last for years

Fresh food could be made to last for years after U.S. scientists discovered a natural preservative capable of destroying a whole class of bacteria, including E.coli and listeria, reports The London Times.


Produce treated with the preservative, called, bisin, which is produced by harmless bacteria, would not need to be refrigerated. In fact, milk, sausages and sandwiches could be on shelves within three years.


Ready meals, opened wine and fresh salad dressing could also be safely consumed long after they were bought, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota, who discovered the substance from a culture of a harmless bacteria, Bifodobacterium longum, commonly found in the human gut and have patented it. The first naturally occurring agent identified that attacks so-called gram-negative bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and listeria, bisin related to nisin), attacks gram-positive bacteria, and is used in the manufacture of processed cheeses and meats. As such, it is GRAS would not have to be pharmacologically tested.


Dan Sullivan, an Irish microbiologist who now works at the university, told The Sunday Times: "It seems to be much better than anything which has gone before. It doesn't compromise nutrient quality - we are not adding a chemical, we are adding a natural ingredient."


Fruit and vegetables will, of course, decompose eventually, so research is ongoing to stop bacteria from growing. Meanwhile British wholesaler Booker has begun to make sandwiches with a two-week shelf life, by replacing all the oxygen in the plastic packaging with nitrogen and carbon dioxide.