In a recent opinion, EFSA’s BIOHAZ Panel concluded that under specific conditions, bacteriophages may be very effective in the elimination of specific pathogens from foods.
However, based on data currently available in peer-reviewed scientific literature, the Panel could not conclude whether bacteriophages can protect against bacteria in case the food becomes re-contaminated. The efficacy of bacteriophages against re-contamination of food may vary according to the characteristics of the food itself, the type of bacteriophage and how it is used, and environmental factors.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by the European Commission to provide advice on the use of bacteriophages on food of animal origin. In particular, it was asked to describe the mode of action of bacteriophages on food of animal origin (be it carcasses, meat and dairy products), and also if these have a continuous action in the final food.
EFSA’s BIOHAZ Panel (Biological Hazards) concluded that some bacteriophages, under specific conditions, have been demonstrated to be very effective in the targeted elimination of specific pathogens from meat, milk and products thereof. The Panel, however, could not conclude whether bacteriophages can protect against bacteria in case the food becomes re-contaminated.
EFSA’s BIOHAZ Panel finally recommended that in order to further assess the persistence of bacteriophages in foods and their ability to prevent recontamination with bacterial pathogens, research for specific combinations of bacteriophages, pathogens and foods should be encouraged.
Source: EFSA – European Food Safety Authority