Development of the application of bacteriophages in the removal of odour-producing bacteria from meat

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour


When vacuum-packed meat is first opened it is not uncommon for consumers to smell a bad odour. This smell, caused by typically harmless but odour-producing bacteria, can discourage consumers as they may presume the meat has gone off but generally washing the meat helps to remove the smell. However, if consumers are unaware of this it can lead to economic loss and negatively impact the commercial product brand. Previous studies have identified species of the Lactobacillales order, otherwise known as lactic acid bacteria (LAB), as the causative agents of the odour production. Contamination of meat by LAB may occur at any stage of the production line and these species of bacteria are microaerophiles that can grow at low temperatures making the vacuum-packed meat the ideal environment for their growth.
A promising approach to the removal of these bacteria is to exploit bacteriophages (phages), which are naturally occurring viruses that are able to kill bacteria. The FDA has classed phages, as safe and commercial phage products are available on the market, such as a phage cocktail to prevent Listeria in ready meals, meat and fruit. This research aims to determine whether phages could be used during the meat processing and packaging process to prevent the growth of LAB and consequently the production of bad odours with an ultimate goal of reducing the amount of meat wasted as a result of bad odours.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1898602 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 02/10/2017 30/09/2021 Francesca Hodges
Description Food processing industry leader meeting (Cranswick Country Foods) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The purpose of this engagement activity is to keep this particular company, Cranswick Country Foods, interested and informed on this research project as the outcomes and key findings could be highly impactful to their meat processing practices. Previous updates have resulted in their repeated enquiries into the progress of the project and support of the idea and potential applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019,2020