Disrupting Cell Communication in Bacteria May Prevent Foodborne Illness

The rise in the number of foodborne illnesses from Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, coupled with the lack of an effective intervention method, has led to intense scientific research into prevention efforts. One solution may be interfering with quorum sensing, a sophisticated network of cell-to-cell communication in bacteria that may cause foodborne illness, according to a Scientific Status Summary published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

In the article, published in the January/February 2009 issue of the Journal of Food Science, authors Bassam A. Annous, Pina M. Fratamico, and James L. Smith of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa., review recent research on how inhibiting quorum sensing may help decrease foodborne illnesses. Interfering with quorum sensing impedes the growth of bacterial communities known as biofilms that can form on foods such as fresh produce. A biofilm might appear, for example, as a sticky film on a melon. Resistant to many conventional washing methods, biofilms cause persistent low-level contamination of foods.

According to the authors, “It may be possible for foods to be formulated to interfere with quorum sensing and thus inhibit growth of spoilage or pathogenic organisms, virulence, and biofilm formation, which would greatly benefit food production quality and safety.”

Source: Institute of Food Technologists

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