Viruses approved as food additive by FDA

Get ready to add a new word to your health vocabulary. Bacteriophages are the new buzzword, and they’ve just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as the first mix of bacteria-killing viruses to be termed a food additive. Sounds a little homeopathic, no?

According to virus manufacturer Intralytix Inc., the bacteriophages (Greek for “bacteria eater”) are designed to be sprayed on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products including sliced luncheon meat — a high-risk product because it is rarely heated or cooked after purchase. The “phages’ ” — as they’re nicknamed — number-one job is to kill off strains of Listeria monotonousness bacterium which cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily attacks pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Of the 25,000 people stricken with listeriosis each year, 500 die of it.

I’m torn on this one, I really am. On the one hand, if modern science allows us to harness something like a virus for the greater good, I’m for it. In the article, both the FDA and consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest assure us that the most stringent guidelines have been followed and the phages wouldn’t be used if otherwise.

On the other hand, as someone who tries to eat as little non-organic meat as possible (I had to check my Texas meat-eater card at the Washington State border six years ago), I’m thinking if we have to create a virus to kill off bacteria in our lunch meat, maybe we shouldn’t be eating lunch meat. Just a small observation that I admit may be faulty.

What’s your take on this?

Author by Kristi Anderson