Researchers Develop Lactic Acid Bacterium to Extend Shelf Life of Food – The Spoon

Researchers at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark have developed a new biological method of extending the shelf life of food and fighting food waste. According to a blog post pubished this week on the university’s website, scientists have created a natural lactic acid bacterium that secretes nisin, an antimicrobial peptide, when grown on dairy waste (hat tip: Technology Networks).

This finding has a couple of different applications. First, as the university post writes:

Nisin is approved for use in a number of foods, where it can prevent the growth of certain spoilage microorganisms as well as microorganisms that make consumers sick. It can for instance inhibit spore germination in canned soups and prevent late blowing in cheeses—without affecting its flavour.

In addition to extending the life of foods, Nisin can help utilize existing inefficiencies in dairy production. Large amounts of whey are leftover during the cheesemaking process, and as the researchers point out, this leftover whey can now be used to create nisin.

For a more deep technical dive into this nisin research, you can check out this scientific article in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

This research could add to a growing number of commercially available products using biochemical approaches to extending the shelf life of food. Currently, Apeel uses a special plant-based coating to cover and preserve fresh food like avocados. Hazel Technologies, which raised $70 million this month, makes a sachet inserted with perishable food shipments that emits 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) gas to inhibit ethylene, which plants produce they age.

Food waste is a big problem around the world. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that 54 million tons of food goes to waste every year. Thankfully startups and researchers are making progress to combat this issue. To that end, The Spoon has partnered with ReFED, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to ending the food waste crisis, to hold a one day virtual summit highlighting some of the solutions coming to market. The Food Waste Insights + Innovation Forum is a free-to-attend half-day virtual event on June 16th from 9 AM to 1 PM PT (12 PM to 4 PM ET) and will feature some of the leading companies and organizations. Get your ticket today!

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