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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Bacteriophage: Potential Role in Food Safety

Authors
item Huff, William
item Huff, Geraldine
item Rath, Narayan
item Balog, Janice
item Donoghue, Ann

Submitted to: Preharvest and Postharvest Food Safety
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 2, 2003
Publication Date: May 10, 2004
Citation: Huff, W.E., Huff, G.R., Rath, N.C., Balog, J.M., Donoghue, A.M. 2004. Bacteriophage: Potential role in food safety. In Preharvest and Postharvest Food Safety. Contemorary Issues and Future Directions. Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing. p. 365-374.

Interpretive Summary: It has been known since the early 1900's that bacteriophage kill bacteria. The potential of bacteriophage to treat diseases and control foodborne pathogenic bacteria appears obvious. With the continued emergence of pathogenic bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animal production systems there is renewed interest in the use of bacteriophage as an alternative to antibiotics. There are a number of issues that must be solved before bacteriophage products can be practical alternatives to antibiotics. Some of the issues addressed in this chapter include the specificity of bacteriophage, emergence of resistance to bacteriophage, transduction of bacterial genes and consequent transformation of infected bacteria, uncertainty over the efficacy of repeated bacteriophage therapy, unknown regulatory requirements of bacteriophage products, and how to protect proprietary rights to bacteriophage products. The advantages of bacteriophage compared to antibiotics include their specificity, exponential growth, cost of development, lack of effects on plant or animal cells, ease to solve the emergence of resistance, potential for genetic modification to improve bacteriophage efficacy, and their ubiquitous and plentiful nature. There is a real need for concerted research to determine how we can take natures own way to control bacteria and make it a tool to use in our continuing efforts to control pathogenic bacteria. The concept that bacteriophage can be used to control bacteria has been examined for over 90 years. The real challenge is to develop practical bacteriophage products to control pathogenic bacteria of interest in agriculture products both pre- and post-harvest. Bacteriophage will not replace antibiotics, but they have potential to provide a viable alternative to antibiotics.

Technical Abstract: It has been known since the early 1900's that bacteriophage kill bacteria. The potential of bacteriophage to treat diseases and control foodborne pathogenic bacteria appears obvious. With the continued emergence of pathogenic bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animal production systems there is renewed interest in the use of bacteriophage as an alternative to antibiotics. There are a number of issues that must be solved before bacteriophage products can be practical alternatives to antibiotics. Some of the issues addressed in this chapter include the specificity of bacteriophage, emergence of resistance to bacteriophage, transduction of bacterial genes and consequent transformation of infected bacteria, uncertainty over the efficacy of repeated bacteriophage therapy, unknown regulatory requirements of bacteriophage products, and how to protect proprietary rights to bacteriophage products. The advantages of bacteriophage compared to antibiotics include their specificity, exponential growth, cost of development, lack of effects on plant or animal cells, ease to solve the emergence of resistance, potential for genetic modification to improve bacteriophage efficacy, and their ubiquitous and plentiful nature. There is a real need for concerted research to determine how we can take natures own way to control bacteria and make it a tool to use in our continuing efforts to control pathogenic bacteria. The concept that bacteriophage can be used to control bacteria has been examined for over 90 years. The real challenge is to develop practical bacteriophage products to control pathogenic bacteria of interest in agriculture products both pre- and post-harvest. Bacteriophage will not replace antibiotics, but they have potential to provide a viable alternative to antibiotics.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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