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Bioscience company Chr Hansen is using ‘good bacteria’ to fight listeria contamination. Doris Prodanovic speaks to ANZ CEO Kylie Evans to find out how.

When it comes to foods suchas processed meats, ready meals, seafood and pre-mixed salads, the risk of listeria contamination is of top concern for manufacturers and processors.

Danish bioscience company Chr Hansen has developed SafePro as a solution to inhibit the growth of listeria bacteria using naturally-occurring ‘good bacteria’ strands, which can be sprayed onto foods during the manufacturing process.

“Our product innovation is based on more than 30,000 microbial strains. We like to refer to them as ‘good bacteria’,” Chr Hansen ANZ CEO Kylie Evans told Food & Drink Business.

“We fingerprint these strains and look for the properties that are going to be of benefit to food and health. Strains from the SafePro range were originally isolated from food products, like sourdough bread or meat where they were found to suppress listeria growth. They really are nature’s way of keeping food safe and fresh.”

Around 80 cases of listeriosis are reported in Australia each year. So far this year there have been eight recalls of listeria contaminated food. Two people died from smoked salmon, and two from contaminated sandwich ingredients.

Although disease and death are rare from listeria infection, it can be serious particularly for pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly, and people with diabetes or cancer.

Evans says there is an ongoing cost to brands and loss of reputation when it comes to a listeria recall, with high-risk products always requiring appropriate good manufacturing practice to ensure food safety.

“Once food leaves a manufacturing site or the supermarket chiller, manufacturers are unable to control how the customer treats a product – if they leave it out of their fridge or on the bench for longer than they should,” Evans says.

“We know that Australian manufacturers have world class good manufacturing practice and strive for ongoing excellence in food safety. SafePro provides the extra hurdle once products are outside of the control of the manufacturer.”

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