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New preservative could extend use-by dates by years

Scientists at the University of Minnesota, have patented a substance called bisin - a natural ingredient that can dramatically extend the shelf life of perishables

Sep 12 2011

Feeling peckish? Scientists have discovered a new preservative which may be able to give sandwiches a shelf life of two years

Feeling peckish? Scientists have discovered a new preservative which may be able to give sandwiches a shelf life of two years

Scientists have discovered a new preservative, which they claim could dramatically extend the life of perishables such as milk, sandwiches and sausages.

In some cases, foods could last for years at home, including opened wine, ready meals and fresh salad dressing. These foods may not even require refrigeration.

The preservative, called bisin, occurs naturally in some types of harmless bacteria. It prevents the growth of lethal bacteria including E-coli, salmonella and listeria.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota, who have patented the substance, are already in talks with food manufacturers. The first products containing bisin are expected to appear on the market within three years.

Dr Dan O’Sullivan, an Irish microbiologist who works in Minnesota made the discovery by accident while examining a culture of bacteria found in the human intestine.

He said: “It seems to be much better than anything which has gone before. It doesn’t compromise nutrient quality – we are not adding a chemical, we are adding a natural ingredient.

“It’s aimed at protecting foods from a broad range of bugs that cause disease.”

Bisin will not stop fruit and vegetables rotting as they decompose in a different way.

The new preservative doesn’t require pharmaceutical testing, because it is chemically related to nisin which is already used to keep processed cheese sterile and edible for decades.

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