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Bacteriophages—a new hope or a huge problem in the food industry

Institute of Agricultural and Food Biotechnology, Department of Microbiology, 36 Rakowiecka, 02-532 Warsaw, Poland

Special Issues: Enzymes and Microbial Application in Foods

Bacteriophages are viruses that are ubiquitous in nature and infect only bacterial cells. These organisms are characterized by high specificity, an important feature that enables their use in the food industry. Phages are applied in three sectors in the food industry: primary production, biosanitization, and biopreservation. In biosanitization, phages or the enzymes that they produce are mainly used to prevent the formation of biofilms on the surface of equipment used in the production facilities. In the case of biopreservation, phages are used to extend the shelf life of products by combating pathogenic bacteria that spoil the food. Although phages are beneficial in controlling the food quality, they also have negative effects. For instance, the natural ability of phages that are specific to lactic acid bacteria to destroy the starter cultures in dairy production incurs huge financial losses to the dairy industry. In this paper, we discuss how bacteriophages can be either an effective weapon in the fight against bacteria or a bane negatively affecting the quality of food products depending on the type of industry they are used.
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