Food Standards Australia New Zealand has called for submissions on an application for a processing aid to reduce the risk of the food poisoning bacteria, listeria.
FSANZ chief executive, Steve McCutcheon, said Micreos BV (previously EBI Food Safety Ltd) had applied for permission to use a bacteriophage preparation called P100 as a processing aid for ready-to-eat foods to reduce levels of Listeria monocytogenes.
Processing aids cannot be used in food production without a rigorous safety assessment first by FSANZ.
FSANZ was proposing that P100 be approved for the surface treatment of solid ready-to eat meat including meat and poultry products, cheese, fish and fish products, and fruit and vegetables and their products, Mr McCutcheon said.
P100 is a bacteriophage that selectively destroys the food poisoning bacteria, Listeria, helping to improve the safety of ready-to-eat foods. Bacteriophage are harmless to plants, animals and humans. They do not alter the properties of food and break down into natural compounds such as amino acids.
While Listeria has little impact on healthy people, it can cause severe illness in people with reduced immune systems such as pregnant women and their babies, young children, cancer patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and the elderly.
The use of bacteriophage preparations to treat meat and other food has been approved in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.
Following the call for submissions there will be a further assessment period before it is considered by the FSANZ Board around July.
The period for submissions closes on April 27.