University Student Invents World’s First Bacteria-Free Food Packaging
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but not if your apple is covered in bacterial biofilm, a potentially chronic illness-causing bacteria that sticks to produce and packaging in the shipping process. Now a graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered a way to attack the potentially harmful bacteria that sticks to food packaging, a discovery with immense commercial potential.
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, 45 percent of which are caused by bacteria. The issue of biofilm build-up is increasingly significant as industrialized countries see an increased demand for fresh produce and raise awareness of the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. But public health concerns about fresh produce are especially acute because many of these products are consumed raw. Countless microorganisms, including illness-causing bacteria, attach to food and packaging surfaces, forming biofilms in a complex and multifaceted process.
Brandwein has incorporated a novel molecule synthesized at the Hebrew University, called TZD, into anti-biofilm food packaging. At the Biofilm Research Laboratory the molecule successfully interfered with biofilm formation by bacteria and fungi. It has also been tested successfully to prevent biofilms in recycled water systems.