Food Safety Magazine

News | May 23, 2017

Study: Fatty Acids Can Kill Listeria

By Staff

Study: Fatty Acids Can Kill Listeria

Research conducted at the University of Southern Denmark shows that fatty acids might neutralize the harmful effects of Listeria bacterium.

The study, spearheaded by professor Birgitte Kallipolitis, was initiated with the purpose of finding ways to reduce dangerous bacteria in food. Kallipolitis and her research team are working on multiple studies to decipher once and for all what happens at the molecular level when fatty acids and Listeria encounter each other.

"Our study has shown that common, naturally occurring fatty acids can switch off the specific genes that make the bacterium dangerous. We tested omega-3 fatty acids, and it took them about half an hour to neutralize the Listeria bacteria. It´s interesting that naturally occurring, completely harmless and actually healthy fatty acids can be used to suppress dangerous bacteria such as Listeria. The long-term perspective is that it may prove possible to develop new treatment methods - not only against Listeria, but also against other dangerous bacteria that are currently resistant to antibiotics," says Kallipolitis.

Even before this research, it has been a well-known fact throughout the industry that some fatty acids have antimicrobial effects that can kill not only Listeria, but Salmonella too. The difference now, says Kallipolitis, is that even low concentrations of fatty acids are able to combat bacteria, which was not known before.

The research conducted by Kallipolitis and her team has been published in the scholarly journal Research in Microbiology.

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