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4th November 2019  Author: Micreos BV

European Court Allows Use of Phage Control in Ready-To-Eat Foods

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has issued a court order which allows food companies to apply phage biocontrol as a means of eliminating Listeria in ready to eat (RTE) meals.

At present, there is no legal framework relevant to the use of phages in food safety. However, the bacteriophage product Listex™P100, made by Micreos, that is used and regulated in the US was assessed by EFSA. This assessment was carried out by leading scientists across Europe to weigh up benefit-over-risk associated with the product.

The report concluded that Listex P100 was efficient at destroying Listeria in foods but did not eliminate it. Nevertheless, the assessment was in Micreos’ favor. That was two years ago, and Micreos have been waiting for the European Commission to finish a draft to implement into European law on the use of phage biocontrol by food business operators (FBO) ever since.

In lieu of legislation, the ECJ has advised FBOs it is legal and safe to use Listex P100 until an actual phage regulatory framework can be established.

Bert de Vegt of Micreos, who was also a participant in the EFSA study, along with supporting phage biocontrol, advised the EU scientific panel that the  microbiological safety criteria limit for Listeria  needed to be reduced. As he claimed the limit of 100cfu/g was too high for a person in the YOPI group ( (Young, Old, Pregnant, Immuno-compromised)  and needed to be lower. Given the recent Listeria outbreaks across Europe, the support of phage use by the ECJ will be welcomed by most FBOs. 

FBO will now be allowed to use Listex P100 at the final stages of RTE food production; post-lethal treatment, and before packaging. The amount allowed to use is set, and there are guidelines regarding such that come with the product.  



Date Published: 4th November 2019

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