As detailed in the study, A Novel Bacteriophage Targeting Cronobacter sakazakii is a Potential Biocontrol Agent in Foods, researchers led by Sangryeol Ryu from Seoul National University sought to verify the potential of a bacteriophage - a virus that only infects bacteria - to decontaminate tainted infant formula.
To evaluate its biocontrol activity against Cronobacter sakazakii, the phage - called CR5 - was added to infant formula contaminated with the pathogen.
It showed “high antimicrobial activity” against Cronobacter sakazakii.
After 10 hours, no Cronobacter sakazakii was detected in the previously tainted infant formula, the researchers reported.
This result suggests “CR5 is a good candidate for biocontrol agent against both clinical and food isolates in infant formula milk,” the study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, concluded.
Cronobacter sakazakii, previously known as Enterobacter sakazakii, can survive in very dry conditions, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
It has been found in dry foods, such as powdered milk and powdered infant formula.
“Cronobacter sakazakii is an important pathogen with high mortality in infants,” the study said. “Due to its occasional antibiotic resistance, a bacteriophage approach could be an alternative effective method for the control of this pathogen.”
According to the researchers, their study provides the foundation “for further development of a novel phage biocontrol agent against C. sakazakii in foods.”
They acknowledged, however, that manufacturers may be reluctant.
“For real industry applications, cheap phage purification and concentration method as well as optimized food application to foods as natural food preservatives or as biocontrol agent, customers may not prefer to using phage in some sensitive foods including milk formula.”
“Therefore, food applications to control food borne pathogens using phage need to be considered carefully.”
Source: Applied and Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1128/AEM.01827-15
Title: A Novel Bacteriophage Targeting Cronobacter sakazakii is a Potential Biocontrol Agent in Foods
Authors: Ju-Hoon Lee, Jaewoo Bai, Hakdong Shin, Yeran Kim, Bookyung Park, Sunggi Heu, Sangryeol Ryu