Thursday, August 24, 2006

Viruses To Be Used as Food Additive

Believe it. The FDA has approved a cocktail of six bacteria-killing viruses (bacteriophages) to be sprayed on meat, reports the AP (by way of Wired News).

The viruses will be added to prepared meats like cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages, and kill strains of Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, which makes 2,500 people "seriously ill" each year. An FDA spokesperson told the AP that these meats are vulnerable because they're usually not cooked after being purchased.

According to the FDA, adding specific viruses to food is safe. The viruses being used do not attack human or plant cells, just bacteria harmful to people. However, there is the potential that the helpful viruses may "contain toxic residues associated with the bacteria." But testing has assuaged these concerns.

My question for medical science: when can we expect the first bacteriaphages to be approved for fighting illness? In other words, when will we have the unique opportunity in human history to take viruses to make us better?

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.