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Making Pre-Cooked Foods Safer

Study: Edible film controls bacteria growth on food

WEDNESDAY, July 31, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- University of Arkansas food scientists have created an edible film that can prevent the growth of Listeria bacteria on ready-to-eat chicken and other pre-cooked foods.

The film consists of two proteins called zein and nisin. While the combination is harmless to humans, it kills Listeria bacteria that can contaminate chicken and other foods such as deli meats and hot dogs between the cooking and packaging stages.

Listeria bacteria, which can survive refrigeration, can cause serious illness and poses a special risk to children and the elderly and causes miscarriage in pregnant women.

To test their protective film, the researchers bought chicken breast tenders, froze them and irradiated them to eliminate bacteria. They then cooked and cooled them and immersed them in Listeria cultures.

The researchers then dipped the chicken pieces in two solutions, one containing a combination of zein and nisin and one containing zein alone. The combination of the two proteins was the most effective in lowering bacterial counts.

The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Food Science.

More Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has all the facts about listeria and other foodborne diseases.

SOURCE: University of Arkansas, news release, July 25, 2002
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