18 Mar 2012

Submissions sought on new food treatment

10:45 am on 18 March 2012

The Food Standards agency is calling for submissions on allowing a new treatment for solid foods to reduce the risk of the food-poisoning bacteria listeria.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is proposing that a bacteria-killing virus known as P100 be used on ready-to-eat foods like meat, cheese and fish.

The organisation's principal microbiologist, Duncan Craig, says it would be a useful tool that could lead to safer food.

"The food industry invests a lot of time and energy in terms of trying to reduce the levels of this bacteria in food," he says, "and this product is there to be used as another control measure."

Dr Craig says listeria can cause severe illness in people with low immune systems including pregnant women, their babies, young children, cancer patients, people with HIV and the elderly.

Submissions on the proposal close at the end of April.