In July the first proprietary batches of bacteriophage against contamination of Listeria monocytogenes are due to be shipped to customers in the European Union and the United States. Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, a food-borne disease recognised as an important health problem.
Outbreaks lead to the death of about 25 per cent of those infected, ranking it as the highest fatality rate of all food borne diseases. During pregnancy, listeriosis often causes miscarriage or stillbirth.
Finding Listeria monocytogenes, mainly in raw and ready-to-eat meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, has prompted numerous product recalls, which have led to large financial losses for the food industry and numerous health scares.
Listeria is a remarkably tough organism that has a high resistance to salt, nitrite, dry conditions and acidity. But in particular it is the micro organism's ability to multiply under refrigerated conditions, which causes major concerns for food processors.
The potential of phages to treat infections and kill foodborne bacteria has been recognised for decades, but EBI Food Safety believes it is the first to have a commercial product on the market. What makes bacteriophages particularly suitable for the fight against bacteria is the fact that they have no impact on plant or animal cells, and are ubiquitous and plentiful in nature – in water, soil, and food products.
"The establishment of our Phage Technology Centre is a milestone in the history of phage technology. This will reinforce EBI Food Safety's position as product leader in the field of applied bacteriophage technology and marks a breakthrough in the fight against dangerous bacteria," says EBI Food Safety's CEO Mark Offerhaus.
EBI Food Safety is a privately held life sciences company focused on the development and commercialisation of new anti-bacterial agents, based on its bacteriophage technology. The company's scientific network includes collaborations with universities and research centres in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and Italy.