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Invention prevents contamination of food packaging by bacterial biofilms
Date:6/19/2014

Eating fruits and vegetables is good for you, but sometimes there's a price to pay: illness caused by bacterial biofilms that adhere to the produce and to the packaging in which it's shipped.

Now a graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered a way to attack those bacteria on food packaging. Using a novel packaging system to disrupt those bacteria, his invention has huge commercial potential.

The student, Michael Brandwein, is a researcher under the supervision of Prof. Doron Steinberg from the Biofilm Research Laboratory of the Hebrew University's Dental Faculty. Brandwein was one of two graduate students presented with a Kaye Innovation Award during the 77TH annual meeting of the Hebrew University Board of Governors on June 11.

Bacterial biofilms are an ever-increasing problem in the food industry, especially for fresh produce. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that food-borne diseases cause an estimated 48 million illnesses each year in the United States alone, of which 45% are caused by bacteria.

Industrialized countries have seen increased demand for fresh produce as awareness of the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables has grown. But public health concerns about fresh produce are especially acute because many of these products are consumed without cooking. Countless microorganisms, including illness-causing bacteria, attach to food and packaging surfaces and form biofilms in a complex and multifaceted process.

How to get rid of the biofilms? It was recently discovered that bacteria actually talk to one another, in a process called quorum sensing. This cross-talk is one of the factors that regulate biofilm formation. When certain molecules detect a sufficiently high cell density, they activate a cascade of genetic processes that leads to the bacteria's adhesion. Controlling the production or integration of these molecules can prevent t
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Contact: Dov Smith
dovs@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82844
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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