New Treatment to Reduce Foodborne Pathogens

Written by Cory Chandler

News Release

April 20, 2006
CONTACT: Cory Chandler, (806) 742-2136, or

Mixtures Nearly Eliminate Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in Beef and Poultry

LUBBOCK, Texas – A mixture of lactic acid bacteria shown to reduce foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in processed beef and poultry by as much as 99.99 percent has passed GRAS (or generally recognized as safe) status review by the Food and Drug Administration.

The mixture, to be sold under the name Bovamine Meat Cultures ™, is one of the few post-production treatments available that protects meat and poultry during long-term storage. Administered during the processing phase, it works with other interventions throughout the beef production chain to provide an added layer of protection for consumers.

The treatment was developed through Texas Tech University and is available through Indianapolis-based Nutrition Physiology Corp. Research was funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, the Texas Beef Council and Nutrition Physiology Corp.

“Illness rates associated with E. coli O157:H7 have declined steadily over the past ten years. Each sector of the beef production chain has developed and implemented best practices aimed at reducing foodborne bacteria and this lactic acid mixture is another great example,” said Mike Engler, Ph.D., Joint Beef Safety Research Committee chairman and Texas beef producer. “It is through the efforts of a united industry, sharing these data and best practices, that we have been able to attack illnesses attributed to pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and reduce their occurrence.”

The development of the mixture of lactic acid bacteria was led by Dr. Mindy Brashears, associate professor and director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech. Tested under conditions simulating meat storage and transfer to and from supermarkets, the product was found to reduce Salmonella by 99.9 percent and E. coli O157:H7 by 99 percent. In addition, the cultures were put through a battery of both subjective and objective taste tests and were shown to have no impact on flavor.

“Lactic acid bacteria are considered good bacteria in that they have a lot of benefits,” Brashears said. “They are used to make several products like cheese, yogurt and sausages. They have a place in nature and they compete with other bacteria by producing compounds that kill the other bacteria. That is where the concept of using these bacteria to actually reduce foodborne pathogens came from. It is not a new concept, but some of the applications we have developed are unique.”

Meat and poultry products containing this mixture will be labeled to reflect the lactic acid cultures used to reduce foodborne pathogens. A link to the FDA’s letter can be found at:

America’s beef producers have invested more than $22 million in beef safety research and development of methods aimed at reducing foodborne bacteria since 1993. “We are committed to implementing the best practices for reduction and elimination of pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, and will continue to work with other sectors of the industry to meet our goals,” said Engler.

This research was published in the “Journal of Food Protection.”

E.coli O157:H7 is a virulent form of the bacteria that can cause diarrhea and, in some cases, kidney failure. Salmonella can cause food poisoning, typhoid, and paratyphoid fever in humans.

Other links:

Dr. Mindy Brashears, director, International Center for Food Industry Excellence, Texas Tech University, (806) 441-3214, (806) 742-2805, ext. 235, or

Michele Murray, director, Beef Safety Public Relations, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, (303) 694-0305,

Erin Kerley, senior manager of communications, Texas Beef Council, (512) 335-8663, ext. 300, or

Doug Ware, owner, Nutrition Physiology Corp., (800) 993-9899, or