A report from the US-based Institute of Food Technologists highlights a series of methods to control food bacteria using antimicrobial food preservatives and sanitisers.
The appropriate use of sanitisers and antimicrobial food preservatives is a simple method to control foodborne pathogens without concern for creating "super" bugs - microorganisms resistant to antimicrobial treatment, the report highlights.
Entitled, Resistance and Adaptation to Food Antimicrobials, Sanitisers, and Other Process Controls, the report states that there is no evidence that proper use of antimicrobial agents in food manufacturing settings will lead to the development of resistant microorganisms.
Acknowledging that data addressing the creation of antimicrobial resistant pathogens are scarce, the report calls for increasing studies of the conditions that exist within and on food production and processing lines.
"In the laboratory, it's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that organisms can develop tolerances when improperly exposed to sanitisers or antimicrobials," said P. Michael Davidson, IFT member, professor at the University of Tennessee, and co-author of the summary. "More study is needed in realistic settings, such as model food processing lines."There is the potential for emergence of resistant microorganisms with an ever-increasing reliance on and use of sanitisers on food handling equipment and raw food products, the report states. However, it does not predict any public health problems resulting from microorganisms that develop resistance to current antimicrobial applications in food manufacturing.
"There's no indication of an increase in the incidence of resistant organisms on food products," after applying preservatives, sanitisers or antimicrobial agents, Davidson said.Simple methods for overcoming the potential for development of antimicrobial resistance by pathogens in food manufacturing settings include the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents, avoidance of sub-lethal concentrations of antimicrobial agents, and the appropriate use of combinations of antimicrobials, the report concludes.