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Sub-Lethal Doses Of Biocides In Food Industry May Be Doing More Harm Than Good

January 6, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The use of sub-lethal doses of biocides in the food industry may be increasing the resistance of dangerous bacteria like E. coli to both biocides and antibiotics, while boosting their ability to form harmful biofilms, according to a Spanish study. Exposure to the biocide sodium nitrite increased resistance in E. coli to 14 of 29 antibiotics. Exposure also increased tolerance to the biocides sodium nitrate and sodium hypochlorite, which also improved the ability to form biofilms. Exposure to the biocide trisodium phosphate, however, reduced E. coli’s ability to form biofilms and boosted resistance to only one antibiotic.
R. Capita et al., "Exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of food-grade biocides influences the ability to form biofilm, the resistance to antimicrobials and the ultrastructure of Escherichia coli ATCC 12806", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, January 06, 2014, © American Society for Microbiology
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