Researchers at McMaster University have developed a new, highly effective tool to mitigate bacterial contamination of foods, including pathogens displaying antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The technology involves the application of bacteriophages (phages)—benign viruses that eat bacteria—to goods in the form of microgels.
Phages are natural predators to bacteria, and because phages attack bacteria in a highly targeted manner, they can be used in food and agriculture without disturbing the balance of microbial communities. Phage products have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for controlling dangerous bacterial contaminants such as Escherichia coli in food products. Though they do not affect the taste, texture, and nutritional quality of foods, phages are not widely used by industry due to challenges with delivery and stability of phage products.