Development of a phage-based technology for eliminating or significantly reducing contamination of fruits and vegetables with E. coli O157:H7

Period of Performance: 11/01/2006 - 11/15/2007

$120K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Intralytix, Inc.
701 E PRATT ST. STE 4038 Array
Baltimore, MD 21202
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Foodborne illnesses of microbial origin continue to be serious food safety problems worldwide, and they also may substantively hamper military operations. Thus, the availability of approaches which significantly reduce contamination of foods with various bacterial pathogens is of paramount importance for ensuring the safety and operational readiness of US troops worldwide, as well as for the safety of civilian populations. Ready-to-eat-foods (RTEFs) are of particular concern because they are not subjected to cooking, which kills most bacteria. However, bacterial decontamination of RTEFs presents considerable challenges because the efficacy of currently available chemical food-sanitizers is imperfect, and many of them damage food quality and adversely affect the environment. Thus, novel, environmentally-safe and effective approaches are needed to ensure the safety of foods that may be intentionally (e.g., bioterrorism) or naturally contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Bacteriophages, viruses that kill bacteria, may provide one such approach. Intralytix is one of the world s leading companies specializing in the development of phage preparations for improving food safety. Thus, in response to the US Army s request to develop phage technology effective against biological pathogens in foods, we propose to develop and test a lytic phage preparation ( EcoPhage ) for reducing contamination of fruits and vegetables with E. coli O157:H7.