Page 13 - Australian Pork Newspaper
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Popular pork snack could help develop safe food preservative
RESEARCHERS have Bacteria-killing weapon identified a bacteria- A team of RMIT re-
food preservatives ef- fectively means we are turning bacteria’s own toxic weapons against them – harnessing nature’s smart solutions to tackle our big challenges,” Dr Parlindungan said.
killing compound in Nem Chua, a traditional Vietnamese snack, that could help address both food waste and food- borne illnesses.
searchers was inspired to investigate Nem Chua for its potential antibacterial properties after travelling to Vietnam and observing people eating the raw meat snack without getting sick, despite the hot and humid climate.
Food waste is a global
issue that costs around
$A900 billion annually in
industrialised countries, The team, led by Pro-
“In the future, these compounds might also be useful as an antibiotic in human medicine.”
consumes nearly a quarter of the water used in ag- riculture and produces 8 percent of global green- house emissions.
fessor Andrew Smith – now at Griffith University – and Dr Bee May, discov- ered a new type of bac- teria-killing compound in Nem Chua.
Researchers at RMIT’s school of science have begun experimenting with methods to further purify the compound and are planning to incorporate it into test food products.
Food-borne diseases such as listeria or salmo- nella affect millions each year and can be life threat- ening for pregnant women, older people and those who are immunocompromised.
Plantacyclin B21AG is one of a group of com- pounds known as bacteri- ocins, which are produced by bacteria to destroy rival bacterial strains.
But researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have identified a bacteria- killing compound in Nem Chua that could help ad- dress these issues.
Bacteriocins form holes in the membranes of target bacteria.
The fermented pork snack Nem Chua is eaten raw but does not cause food poisoning when pre- pared correctly.
This causes the contents of the cell to leak out – ef- fectively killing the bac- teria.
This is because friendly bacteria that thrive in the fermented meat make a special compound that destroys more dangerous bacteria.
The problem is most bacteriocins only work against one or two types of bacteria and they are not very stable in different environmental conditions.
Professor Oliver Jones at RMIT University in Melbourne said changes in consumer habits have led to a greater demand for natural alternatives to artifi- cial food preservatives.
Now researchers have shown how this natural bacteria-killing compound could be used to keep food fresh for longer.
Only one – Nisin, which came to market in the 1960s – is currently li- censed for use as a food preservative, in a market estimated to be worth more than $A680 million in 2020, but this com- pound is temperature and pH sensitive limiting its use.
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Associate dean of bio- sciences and food tech- nology at RMIT Professor Oliver Jones said changes in consumer habits have led to a greater demand for natural alternatives to ar- tificial food preservatives.
The Nem Chua-derived compound is more robust than Nisin and is effective against a wide range of bacteria even after expo- sure to a range of envi- ronments typical in food processing.
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“Scientists have known
about these bacteria-
killing compounds for It can survive being
many years, but the chal- lenge is to produce them in large enough quantities to be used by the food industry,” Prof Jones said.
heated to 90C for 20 min- utes and remains stable across high and low pH levels.
“The Nem Chua com- pound is colourless, odour- less, tasteless and very re- silient.
The compound can also destroy a range of dis- ease-causing organisms commonly found in food including potentially life- threating listeria, which can survive refrigeration and even freezing.
“Through this new re- search, we’ve identified the right growth conditions that would enable us to make it in large amounts, potentially at industrial scales.
Co-lead researcher Dr Elvina Parlindungan, who completed the new study as part of her PhD re- search at RMIT, is now a postdoctoral fellow at APC Microbiome, part of University College Cork in Ireland.
“With further develop- ment, we hope this could be an effective, safe and all-natural solution for both food waste and food- borne disease.”
“Using bacteriocins as
Naturally ahead
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Australian Pork Newspaper, July 2021 – Page 13

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