The US Food and Drug Administration has said that it is safe to spray lactoferrin, a milk protein, on to beef carcasses to fight disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7.
Scientists with aLF Ventures, a Utah, US, company, had found that spraying lactoferrin on raw beef carcasses inhibits the growth of E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter and prevents them from attaching to meat surfaces.
aLF Ventures says it plans to sell lactoferrin, a naturally occuring protein found in milk.
The FDA issued its endorsement in response to a petition filed by aLF Ventures asking the agency to affirm lactoferrin is safe for consumers. The company also submitted scientific data showing that use of lactoferrin is safe for individuals who are allergic to milk, the agency said in a statement.
"Innovative technology is a critical building block in preserving the strong foundation of the US food supply," said Lester Crawford, deputy FDA commissioner. "We must continue to encourage scientific research and new technology to maintain this nation's safe food supply."
E. coli 0157:H7 - which can result in kidney failure and death - is among the most dangerous of some two dozen harmful bacteria that cause millions of cases of foodborne illness worldwide every year.
The amount of added lactoferrin that remains on the beef after spraying is comparable to the amount of lactoferrin that naturally occurrs in the beef, aLF Ventures said.
The company also submitted scientific data to the US Agriculture Department, which has authority over meat labels.