Could This Be the Cure for Food Poisoning?

Genevieve Fish

Dangerous food scandals have been making headlines a lot recently. In July, the FDA officially banned cilantro imported from Mexico due to years of repeated cyclospora outbreaks. Last week, a California distributor started recalling imported cucumbers after they were found responsible for killing two people and sickening over 300 others. The cucumbers were contaminated with salmonella.

We may be safe from future outbreaks thanks to a new scientific study conducted by scientists from two German biotech companies, Icon Genetics and Nomad Bioscience. The study is focused on a protein called colicins, which can kill deadly strains of E. coli, a common cause of meat contamination. The scientists on the study engineered tobacco, leafy beets, spinach, chicory, and lettuce to produce large quantities of the E. coli–fighting protein and then extracted those proteins and applied them to contaminated meat and produce.

They found that by combining a mixture of two colicin proteins, they could kill all major disease-causing strains of E. coli. “All of the food outbreaks that have been recorded in the last 15 years or so could have been controlled very well by a combination of just two colicins, applied at very low concentrations,” Yurba Gleba, CEO of Nomad Bioscience, told Popular ScienceThe team of scientists is already in the process of testing colicins for possible salmonella cures.

For more details on the potentially life-saving study, head over to Popular Science.

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