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Posted: 8/22/2006 1:43:00 AM EDT
FDA approves viruses as food additive
Bacteriophages meant to kill harmful bacteria on lunch meats

Friday, August 18, 2006; Posted: 6:31 p.m. EDT (22:31 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A mix of bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials said Friday in granting the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.

The combination of six viruses is designed to be sprayed on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, including sliced ham and turkey, said John Vazzana, president and chief executive officer of manufacturer Intralytix Inc.

The special viruses, called bacteriophages, are meant to kill strains of the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, the Food and Drug Administration said in declaring it safe to use on ready-to-eat meats prior to their packaging.

The viruses are the first to win FDA approval for use as a food additive, said Andrew Zajac, of the regulatory agency's office of food additive safety.

The bacterium the viruses target can cause a serious infection called listeriosis, primarily in pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. In the United States, an estimated 2,500 people become seriously ill with listeriosis each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 500 die.

Luncheon meats are particularly vulnerable to Listeria since once purchased they typically aren't cooked or reheated, which can kill harmful bacteria like Listeria, Zajac said.

The preparation of bacteriophages -- the name is Greek for "bacteria-eater" -- attacks only strains of the Listeria bacterium and not human or plant cells, the FDA said.

"As long as it used in accordance with the regulations, we have concluded it's safe," Zajac said. People normally come into contact with phages through food, water and the environment, and they are found in our digestive tracts, the FDA said.

Consumers won't be aware that meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray, Zajac added. The Department of Agriculture will regulate the actual use of the product.

The viruses are grown in a preparation of the very bacteria they kill, and then purified. The FDA had concerns that the virus preparation potentially could contain toxic residues associated with the bacteria. However, testing did not reveal the presence of such residues, which in small quantities likely wouldn't cause health problems anyway, the FDA said.

"The FDA is applying one of the toughest food-safety standards which they have to find this is safe," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group. "They couldn't approve this product if they had questions about its safety."

Intralytix, based in Baltimore, first petitioned the FDA in 2002 to allow the viruses to be used as a food additive. It has since licensed the product to a multinational company, which intends to market it worldwide, said Intralytix president Vazzana. He declined to name the company but said he expected it to announce its plans within weeks or months.

Intralytix also plans to seek FDA approval for another bacteriophage product to kill E. coli bacteria on beef before it is ground, Vazzana said.

Scientists have long studied bacteriophages as a bacteria-fighting alternative to antibiotics.

Original story
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 1:46:48 AM EDT
does this mean I'll be able to get a burger cooked the way I want it now??? Why do they ask if my options are overcooked and burnt to a crisp?
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 2:39:57 AM EDT
rats can't say dupe even though it's a dupe....
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 3:04:18 AM EDT
Wow.

Boy, I'd love to see the validation protocol on this idea....
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 3:57:40 AM EDT

Originally Posted By GeorgiaBII:
rats can't say dupe even though it's a dupe....


I searched for FDA and virus for the last 3 months. Shit with titles like "Check this out!!!!" don't count.
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 5:24:43 AM EDT
Anyone else seeing that the FDA is about $$ more than the health of Americans??
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 5:27:07 AM EDT

Originally Posted By JHill:
Anyone else seeing that the FDA is about $$ more than the health of Americans??

Because "virus" = BAD, right?

Link Posted: 8/22/2006 5:27:48 AM EDT
If it works I don't see what the problem is. People have an aversion to the word virus thanks to the media and TV shows/movies. Not all viruses chew your insides up.
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 5:32:29 AM EDT
Great. Something else I wish I didn't know about.
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 8:54:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By billclo:
Great. Something else I wish I didn't know about.


It's a bacteriophage that attacks a bad type of bacteria.

You know, you have 3 pounds of E.coli living in your gut right now, right?
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 8:59:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Ineedacatscan:
does this mean I'll be able to get a burger cooked the way I want it now??? Why do they ask if my options are overcooked and burnt to a crisp?


Fuckin a right!
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 9:04:10 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Zaphod:
Wow.

Boy, I'd love to see the validation protocol on this idea....


I'll give you a hint: it involves lots of cash and a few now full pockets.
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 9:24:35 AM EDT
....Consumers won't be aware that meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray, ....

Link Posted: 8/22/2006 9:58:01 AM EDT

Originally Posted By squeky:

Originally Posted By billclo:
Great. Something else I wish I didn't know about.


It's a bacteriophage that attacks a bad type of bacteria.

You know, you have 3 pounds of E.coli living in your gut right now, right?


Well, that's alot of bacteria, that's for sure. Just not the sort of thing one wants to think about. This coming from a guy who has been dealing with Lymes disease for 2 years now...
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 10:05:10 AM EDT
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 1:58:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 2:04:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/22/2006 2:04:47 PM EDT by Kylaer_]
They'd have to undergo a hell of a mutation to turn from a bacteriophage into something capable of targeting human DNA. Bacteria have extremely simple genes, one single DNA ring, where humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

I say this is a good thing. Irradiating meat/produce would be even better, but that's unlikely to be accepted either.
Link Posted: 8/22/2006 2:10:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/22/2006 2:11:20 PM EDT by blacklisted]
Bacteriophages are one of my favorites!

These were used prior to antibiotics for a similar purpose.



Link Posted: 8/22/2006 4:00:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/22/2006 4:02:14 PM EDT by Harlikwin]

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)


Link Posted: 8/22/2006 4:22:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)




This is why I said one day. I'm familiar with bacteriophages, and their benefits, to a certain extent. I'm just not convinced that injecting my food with them is the best idea.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 12:24:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)




This is why I said one day. I'm familiar with bacteriophages, and their benefits, to a certain extent. I'm just not convinced that injecting my food with them is the best idea.


Spray. And it is.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 12:33:07 AM EDT
My concern would be the following:

1. they knock out and endanger the weak crap that (out)competes with the really nasty bacteria and now those bastards have free reign (the antibacterial soap argument)

2. they wreak havoc on the beneficial bacteria in the human digestive system.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 12:44:02 AM EDT

Originally Posted By pulpsmack:
My concern would be the following:

1. they knock out and endanger the weak crap that (out)competes with the really nasty bacteria and now those bastards have free reign (the antibacterial soap argument)

2. they wreak havoc on the beneficial bacteria in the human digestive system.


Exactly.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 1:14:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/23/2006 1:15:35 AM EDT by leelaw]

Originally Posted By pulpsmack:
My concern would be the following:

1. they knock out and endanger the weak crap that (out)competes with the really nasty bacteria and now those bastards have free reign (the antibacterial soap argument)

2. they wreak havoc on the beneficial bacteria in the human digestive system.


It's specialized to attack one specific type of bacteria. If you have that bacteria in your digestive system already, then it sounds like you're suggesting a whole different problem.

The viruses don't act like a gun firing at a target, which might accidentally miss and kill some other, unintended thing - it is restricted to killing one specific type. There are no misses here.

I don't recall biology enough to remember if bacteria mutation can actually prevent the bacteriophages from attacking them - that's more along the lines of antibiotics, not virus/bacteria interactions.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 2:21:04 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/23/2006 2:31:03 PM EDT by Harlikwin]

Originally Posted By pulpsmack:
My concern would be the following:

1. they knock out and endanger the weak crap that (out)competes with the really nasty bacteria and now those bastards have free reign (the antibacterial soap argument)

2. they wreak havoc on the beneficial bacteria in the human digestive system.


1. Not really, they are targeted at one type of bacteria, it is possible that the bacteria might mutate to develop resistance to the virus, but this is pretty unlikely due to the methodology being used here, and even in that case you are back to where we are at now with no other problem.

2. No, specifically targeted at one type of bacteria, listeria. Biological weapons are specific eh...

ETA: the antibiotic comparison is really bad in this case since most antibiotics that bacteria develop resistance to tend to be bacteriostatic (don't kill bacteria) rather than bacteriacidal (kill bacteria), bacteriophages are very rapidly bacteriocidal, plus they have a feedforward mechanism working for them which antibiotics do not.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 3:04:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)




This is why I said one day. I'm familiar with bacteriophages, and their benefits, to a certain extent. I'm just not convinced that injecting my food with them is the best idea.


What happens if ANY virus decides to eat people? What happens if one day the cold sore virus decides it wants to eat people? That could be a catastrophe since like half the population carries it! Just because it's a virus doesn't mean that there is the possibility that it will mutate and kill people one day. Any virus could conceivably become deadly.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 3:07:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/23/2006 3:08:41 PM EDT by Zaphod]

Originally Posted By CitySlicker:
Boy, I'd love to see the validation protocol on this idea....


I'll give you a hint: it involves lots of cash and a few now full pockets.

Don't bet on it.


ETA: Of course, none of this would be necessary if they'd just approve the irradiation of food.
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 3:11:56 PM EDT
I know little about microbiology, I would personally rather have my food irradeated.

Link Posted: 8/23/2006 3:14:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ffsparky26:
I know little about microbiology, I would personally rather have my food irradeated.



Irradiated....

I'll take the virii rather than the radiation, thanks!
Link Posted: 8/23/2006 4:06:29 PM EDT
I'll take mine organic and fresh--thanks.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 7:29:14 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Alien:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)




This is why I said one day. I'm familiar with bacteriophages, and their benefits, to a certain extent. I'm just not convinced that injecting my food with them is the best idea.


What happens if ANY virus decides to eat people? What happens if one day the cold sore virus decides it wants to eat people? That could be a catastrophe since like half the population carries it! Just because it's a virus doesn't mean that there is the possibility that it will mutate and kill people one day. Any virus could conceivably become deadly.


Tell you what, go read a good book on viroligy and get back to me. There is no possibility of a bacteriophage doing what you describe.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 11:13:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/24/2006 11:14:13 PM EDT by Alien]

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Alien:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)




This is why I said one day. I'm familiar with bacteriophages, and their benefits, to a certain extent. I'm just not convinced that injecting my food with them is the best idea.


What happens if ANY virus decides to eat people? What happens if one day the cold sore virus decides it wants to eat people? That could be a catastrophe since like half the population carries it! Just because it's a virus doesn't mean that there is the possibility that it will mutate and kill people one day. Any virus could conceivably become deadly.


Tell you what, go read a good book on viroligy and get back to me. There is no possibility of a bacteriophage doing what you describe.


I think you misunderstood me. I was referring to how absurd for believing there was a possibility that there was a chance it could mutate and kill you. If you believe that then by extension you would also believe any single virus could mutate and kill you at any moment. Obviously that doesn't happen.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 11:48:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)





I'm more worried about the trend of tinkering with our food. The concern is that one of these days they create some GMO that has nasty unintended consequences. Scary, creepy stuff.

Link Posted: 8/25/2006 10:57:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Alien:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Alien:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:

Originally Posted By Zack3g:

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
Gee,

Something that will actually improve food safety. Too bad they used a scary word like virus. The sheeple won't eat scary words...



My only question is what have they done to prevent mutation? Viruses love to mutate, what will they do if one day this virus decides that people taste better than bacteria? What then?


You have no idea how viruses actually work on a molecular level do you?
Yes viruses mutate, 99.99999% of all mutation eitherleads to non functional results i.e. dead enzyme/virus in this case, or no change whatsoever. For this somehow to become deadly to humans you would have recode most of this virus which isn't gonna randomly happen (at least in our lifetimes, nor forseably for the next few millenia)




This is why I said one day. I'm familiar with bacteriophages, and their benefits, to a certain extent. I'm just not convinced that injecting my food with them is the best idea.


What happens if ANY virus decides to eat people? What happens if one day the cold sore virus decides it wants to eat people? That could be a catastrophe since like half the population carries it! Just because it's a virus doesn't mean that there is the possibility that it will mutate and kill people one day. Any virus could conceivably become deadly.


Tell you what, go read a good book on viroligy and get back to me. There is no possibility of a bacteriophage doing what you describe.


I think you misunderstood me. I was referring to how absurd for believing there was a possibility that there was a chance it could mutate and kill you. If you believe that then by extension you would also believe any single virus could mutate and kill you at any moment. Obviously that doesn't happen.


We really need some sarcasm tags then. Or I need to read smarter.
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 11:08:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Harlikwin:
We really need some sarcasm tags then. Or I need to read smarter.


No, I just need to express my thoughts a little better when I commit them to a post. I didn't go back and reread that post after I pressed the send button. I bet like 90% of my posts are edited because I go back and reword things to help convey my thoughts a little better.

Adding the words "by that line of thinking," to the last line in that post would have made a lot more sense.
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 11:15:50 AM EDT
WOW cool!! this means I can now eat at Taco Bell with out getting the screaming shits 2 hrs later!!
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 11:27:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By leelaw:

Originally Posted By pulpsmack:
My concern would be the following:

1. they knock out and endanger the weak crap that (out)competes with the really nasty bacteria and now those bastards have free reign (the antibacterial soap argument)

2. they wreak havoc on the beneficial bacteria in the human digestive system.


It's specialized to attack one specific type of bacteria. If you have that bacteria in your digestive system already, then it sounds like you're suggesting a whole different problem.

The viruses don't act like a gun firing at a target, which might accidentally miss and kill some other, unintended thing - it is restricted to killing one specific type. There are no misses here.

I don't recall biology enough to remember if bacteria mutation can actually prevent the bacteriophages from attacking them - that's more along the lines of antibiotics, not virus/bacteria interactions.


Bacteria contain enzymes (called restriction enzymes) that serve as a VERY primitive and crude "immune system" against viruses. This are nucleases (chop up DNA) that act on certain, restricted, short sequences. Usually, the bacterial DNA won't have the restricted sequence, or it will be protected by methyl groups. The viral DNA (or any DNA) in the cell that has the sequence or is unprotected will be cleaved in shorter fragments.

Of course, many viruses have come up with ways to defeat this, but at least bacteria DO have protective measures.

And the chances of a bacteriophage mutating into a "person killer" are so slim it's not even funny. Kinda like an AK or Mini-14 shooting 1" groups at 2000 yds.
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 11:38:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/25/2006 11:40:22 AM EDT by CasualObserver]

Originally Posted By offroader:
I'm more worried about the trend of tinkering with our food. The concern is that one of these days they create some GMO that has nasty unintended consequences. Scary, creepy stuff.


It's only scary until you understand it. Once you understand it, it's fairly basic molecular biology.


Originally Posted By Fat_McNasty:
WOW cool!! this means I can now eat at Taco Bell with out getting the screaming shits 2 hrs later!!


It's a bacteriophage, not a magic wand.

CO
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