KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Federal regulators have approved the use of a natural protein found in dairy products to remove pathogenic bacteria from red meat.
The protein, lactoferrin, is naturally manipulated in a process that creates an "activated" variant capable of preventing bacteria from attaching to meat surfaces, and inhibiting growth of new bacteria, according to officials with aLF Ventures, a partnership between Farmland National Beef Packing Co., a producer-owned beef processor, and DMV International, a producer and marketer of bioactive proteins.
The final approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture permits unrestricted use of the protein on carcass, subprimal and case-ready beef items. The technology will be made available to the entire beef-processing industry, though Farmland expects to be the first to utilize the process in production.
Tests performed prior to USDA approval showed that activated lactoferrin protected test samples from some 30 different strains of pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli 0157:H7 and salmonella. Consumer tests indicated no changes in taste, texture or color of the treated meat, officials said.
Labels and specially marked packages, alerting consumers to the technology, are being developed as part of a marketing plan prior to going to market, they added.