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Viruses the New Condiment

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the hold-the-e-coli dept.

363

Lip writes to tell us that a new bacteria killing virus has been deemed safe by the FDA as a food additive for ready-to-eat meats. These bacteriophages are designed to kill a common microbe (Listeria monocytogenes bacteria) to which hundreds of deaths every year have been attributed. From the article: "The viruses are grown in a preparation of the very bacteria they kill, and then purified. The FDA had concerns that the virus preparation potentially could contain toxic residues associated with the bacteria. However, testing did not reveal the presence of such residues, which in small quantities likely wouldn't cause health problems anyway, the FDA said."

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363 comments

"Waiter! There's a virus on my steak!" (5, Funny)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941046)

"Please keep it down, sir, or everyone will want some."

Re:"Waiter! There's a virus on my steak!" (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941096)

I am not a biologist, so please respond if you are: Could these viruses effect the bacteria that exist in our digestive tracts??

Re:"Waiter! There's a virus on my steak!" (5, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941131)

Ever had strong antibiotics? One of the bits of advice they give you is to eat stuff like yogurt once you're done the treatment.

The reason for this is that antibiotics will kill off your own symbiotic bacteria in addition to the infection they're supposed to cure. However, replacing those same intestianal bacteria is incredibly easy with the right foodstuffs.

Re:"Waiter! There's a virus on my steak!" (3, Informative)

tijnbraun (226978) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941217)

probably not... viruses are often host specific. They have to attach to specific receptors to enter the cell. So as long as the bacteria in our digestive tract do not share the surface proteins with Listeria, the bacteriophage will only tarcet Listeria.

affect vs effect (1, Informative)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941239)

Could these viruses effect the bacteria that exist in our digestive tracts?

You mean affect. The verb effect means "to bring about," which is opposite of what you want it to mean here.

Re:affect vs effect (2)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941287)

Thanks. I admit I get them confused.

Mmmm..... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941050)

lysing

Re:Mmmm..... (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941284)

Relax, don't worry about it. If it makes you too nervous, take som thalidamide and go fishin on Love canal..

Re:Mmmm..... (2, Informative)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941321)

Let's stop giving that drug a bad name. It has its uses, even though it had a terrible past.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide [wikipedia.org]
"The FDA approved thalidomide in 1998, under a restricted access system, for the treatment of erythema nodosum leprosum associated with leprosy (Hansen's disease). It also was found to be effective for multiple myeloma, and is now standard first line therapy for this disease..."

Viruses NOT the New Condiment (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941054)

The federal government classified them as vegetables along with ketchup.

Mutation? (2, Insightful)

MidoriKid (473433) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941059)

Is it possible for a bacteriophage to mutate and infect human cells?

Re:Mutation? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941069)

AFAIK there aren't any phage-type viruses that can infect humans with intact immune systems. They're too big and obvious for our white cells not to notice.

Re:Mutation? (4, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941117)

What's more, a virus whose survival strategy is to infect bacteria doesn't really gain anything from trying to infect animal cells. When was the last time we had any infection, with or without human intervention, that made such an enourmous leap? Hell, it's hard enough for disease organisms to jump from one similar species of animal to another, let alone from bacteria to animals. Even examples like bird flu are going from one large, warm blooded animal to another.

I'd actually think it more likely that the bacteriophages would go after the bacteria living in our digestive system, which would likely cause many of the same problems that a round of antibiotics does - ie, diarhea - but which is also simple to cure by recolonizing your intestines with those same bacteria (no colonizing your colon jokes please). So the cure for the bacteriophage run amok B-movie style would be... yogurt actually.

Re:Mutation? (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941225)

What's more, a virus whose survival strategy is to infect bacteria doesn't really gain anything from trying to infect animal cells. When was the last time we had any infection, with or without human intervention, that made such an enourmous leap?

Presumably sometimes after the first multi-cellular organisms developed.

But you are going about this backwards. A virus doesn't think, it doesn't ask itself: "Can I gain anything by infecting these human cells instead of bacterial cells?" The virus infects the first cell it comes accross it can infect, human or bacterial; the question is if it's possible for the virus to mutate in such a way that it can infect the human cell, not if it's a wise thing for it to do so.

Or, more to the point: how likely is such a mutation to occur ? It is certainly possible, since otherwise we wouldn't have any viruses, they'd all be limited to infecting bacteria.

Re:Mutation? (3, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941318)

Point taken. However, "survival strategy" generally doesn't imply conscious decision, rather it implies what the virus has specifically developed for. In this context, the virus has evolved to infect bacteria, which are quite different from human or animal cells. It's not a question of whether it is "wise" for it to infect those cells, but whether it even could in the first place.

As to ancient viruses jumping species from bacteria to animal cells, what makes you think that humans and modern animals are anything like the first multi-cellural organisms, aside from the obvious point of having more than one cell? So far as I know, immune systems didn't develop until well after organisms became multi-cellular, due to the fact that such systems require specialized dedicated cells evolved to fight infection.

It's much easier to see a disease organism jumping from a single celled organism to a cluster of cells that have only just begun to act as a group, than it is to see a virus that had no prior evolutionary adaptation to immune responses infect a complex organism with an immune system. The "arms race" between animal cells and viruses to develop/survive immune responses accounts for why modern viral infections are capable of surviving an assault by the human immune system, whereas bacteriophages lack those millions of years of adaptation.

I am aware of no examples of bacteriophages jumping species to animals. Presumably they do share a common ancestor with the common cold, but that's likely so far back that using that common ancestor as proof that they could jump to humans is illogical.

Re:Mutation? (1)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941330)

It is certainly possible, since otherwise we wouldn't have any viruses, they'd all be limited to infecting bacteria.

Not necessarily. The gap may simply be too wide now between bacteria and animals. You have to keep in mind when animals were evolving into animals, there was likely a set of viruses that were co-evolving with those early animal-like beings, adapting with the changes as they were made. It was a continuous process as the gap formed, unlike the gap that now exists between the groups.

Re:Mutation? (2, Insightful)

PizzaFace (593587) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941289)

I'm worried that recolonizing the intestinal tract would just feed the viruses. Antibiotics get cleared from your system, but viruses keep multiplying until the hosts are destroyed.

Re:Mutation? (1)

SoumyaRay (458361) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941312)


from the article: "People normally come into contact with phages through food, water and the environment, and they are found in our digestive tracts, the FDA said."

soooo... these are the same phages found in our stomachs? then its not so much a bad thing at all. is it? besides, the article also seems to indicate that only limited meats such as luncheon meats will be treated this way, as they typically are not cooked or reheated by the consumer.

Re:Mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941074)

That's what I'm worried about. How can they control the eventual mutation of something like this?

Re:Mutation? (5, Funny)

Enzo the Baker (822444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941076)

Is it possible for a bacteriophage to mutate and infect human cells?

If it does, we'll just come out with some virus-eating bacteria. It's the ciiiiiiircle of liiiife!

Re:Mutation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941186)

And then the gorillas freeze to death, right?

Good joke but you give a better idea (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941191)

Do we have viruses that infect other viruses? I can see the potential to adding that to many foods to rid entire populations of HIV/AIDS.

Re:Good joke but you give a better idea (4, Informative)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941241)

Viruses don't have cells. They're basically just genetic material in a protein shell that go off to reprogram other cells. It would be impossible to "infect" another virus.

There are ways other viruses can co-infect a cell and piggy-back onto another virus's replication cycle for it's own use, or even disrupt the other virus's replication because of it. Problem is HIV is a retrovirus, which also means it doesn't actively replicate all the time and can integrate into your own genes. That's why an infected person can survive for years with a very low HIV count and relatively symptom free until the viruses essential reactivates.

Re:Mutation? (5, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941095)

Is it possible for a bacteriophage to mutate and infect human cells?

Anything is 'possible'. However, the odds of this are quite small. Bacteriophages are highly adapted to their hosts - bacteria. This would make it far less likely to occur than for a virus adapted to, say, a mammal to cross over to humans (which happens, but rarely). Furthermore, as TFA states, humans already come into contact with these particular bacteriophages all the time.

However, there is a risk factor, obviously. We would be creating much more interaction between human beings and these bacteriophages (if these sprays become commonplace), which would give them more time to adapt to us.

Re:Mutation? (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941115)

I thought that their host were going to be salami.

Re:Mutation? (1)

enharmonix (988983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941197)

Anything is 'possible'. However, the odds of this are quite small.
The odds of replicating proteins strands spontaneously self-assembling are quite small. The odds of these proteins developing protective coatings are quite small. The odds of these things grouping together to form complex structures are quite small. The odds of those structures developing an electrical computational center, or walking on land, or using tools, or adding viruses to food are also, each, quite, quite small. And yet, here we are. It just takes time....

Re:Mutation? (1)

pilkul (667659) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941228)

Indeed. Let's have the FDA schedule a review of this additive every 200 million years and we should be in the clear.

Re:Mutation? (1)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941254)

Nit-picking a detail here but:

DNA isn't protein. Proteins are made of amino acids and do not self-assemble from amino acids. DNA are made of nucleotides.

Cue John Q Public (5, Insightful)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941062)

"They're putting bird flu in our food!"

The press coverage has been woefully bad with respect to explaining that these are not your average run-of-the-mill viruses, but rather are bacteriophages that can only infect bacteria. Expect some mild hysteria over this and some nuts demanding labelling.

truth in labelling (5, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941109)

Whether histerical or not, whether dangerous or not, I am for TRUTH in labelling. It does not matter whether biotest found out that it is innocuous. It does not matter that FDA thinks genetically modified soja is ok for consumption, or hormone in beef, what matters is that *I* "the consumer" need to know to make a choice. Whether I inform myself to make a correct decision is my choice. But if you take out stuff from the label beause no consummer would buy it out of fear, then you REMOVE the choice, even if it is a dumb choice. And I as a consumer find it a really bad idea. Next you will claim putting a label with a list of ingredient with % is a dumb idea too.

Re:truth in labelling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941127)

I totally agree. labelling is NEVER a bad idea. This is called being transparent...

Re:truth in labelling (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941169)

If they had to document every type of microbe that could potentially be in the stuff you are consuming then you would need a book with every bottle of water to list it all....

Re:truth in labelling (5, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941181)

If they had to document every type of microbe that could potentially be in the stuff you are consuming then you would need a book with every bottle of water to list it all....

How about just listing the ones that are intentionally added?

LK

Re:truth in labelling (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941347)

Too bad I don't have any mod points or I would have modded that up.

Re:truth in labelling (4, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941172)

Whether histerical or not, whether dangerous or not, I am for TRUTH in labelling.

Should all products which use yeast include the label "Contains fungus"?

Re:truth in labelling (2, Informative)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941251)

No, because the very definition of yeast is that it's a fungus. Food, however, is not defined to be a virus.

Re:truth in labelling (3, Informative)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941278)

Should all products which use yeast include the label "Contains fungus"?

No, just "yeast" would suffice (and be more precise).

Re:truth in labelling (3, Interesting)

Luxifer (725957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941203)

Ok, lets give you truth in labelling: your tap water contains a hundred trillion of these phages in every glass, but most are specific for other species. While we're at it, about 4 pounds of your body weight is bacteria. That's about the mass of your brain.
    Do you think if we told the public that any given piece of meat has x billion bacteria on it that it would be useful information to them? Plants too, so none of that herbivore crap.
    How about this, your food is inspected and is maintained within the strict standards set by those in charge of your health. That is a good label that can go on all your food.
    Sodium and fat content are useful so you can set your diet. The food's safety shouldn't even be a question, so putting it on the package is pointless.
    Genetic modification has been going on for 10 thousand years by us and a few billion by nature. Unless you're one of those Intelligent Design whacks. If you are, I have one word for you:

Evolve.

Re:truth in labelling (0)

ctr2sprt (574731) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941236)

Whether histerical or not, whether dangerous or not, I am for TRUTH in labelling.

So am I, but truth doesn't imply completeness. The line needs to be drawn somewhere. That cow you want to eat may have ingested some kind of poison which suffused every cell of its body, and by eating it you could die. So it seems relevant, except that every slice of roast beef would have to include a 5000-page manual. At a certain point, we have to trust that the experts (that would be the FDA and other organizations) are, in fact, experts.

So considering that the overwhelming preponderance of scientific opinion on the matter is that these things are, in fact, perfectly safe (and safer than eating bacteria), it's perfectly rational and correct for the "default" case to be "virus included."

But not to worry. I'm sure someone is already out there forming a company to sell "Organic Lunchmeats" with all the original bacteria intact. With truth in labeling the virus-adding players won't be able to make the same claim, so you'll be able to tell the sides apart that way. Just like when you're buying pesticide-free food, non-GM food (in the US), rBGH-free dairy products, etc. Since you're probably the sort of person who buys all those things anyway, it will probably be more convenient for you too: just buy everything that says "Organic" or "All-Natural" on the label!

Re:truth in labelling (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941351)

So am I, but truth doesn't imply completeness. The line needs to be drawn somewhere. That cow you want to eat may have ingested some kind of poison which suffused every cell of its body, and by eating it you could die. So it seems relevant, except that every slice of roast beef would have to include a 5000-page manual. At a certain point, we have to trust that the experts (that would be the FDA and other organizations) are, in fact, experts.

Do you truly have trouble understanding the difference between a substance that was deliberate inserted into the foodstuff and substance that got there by a freak accident and couldn't possibly be included in the list of ingredients since, after all, it's presence was an unforseen accident, or are you simply making a rather pathetic attempt at astroturfing for the meat industry that doesn't want people to be able to discriminate against whatever makes the industry more profits ?

And in the latter case, do you truly want to make your money this way, even when it leads to you, too, being unable to tell what you're actually eating ?

So considering that the overwhelming preponderance of scientific opinion on the matter is that these things are, in fact, perfectly safe (and safer than eating bacteria), it's perfectly rational and correct for the "default" case to be "virus included."

No, it is not. The natural and correct default is that the label includes any and all substances that went into the package. Leaving them out serves no purpose beyond making the people unable to make informed decisions. Which, of course, is exactly what the industry wants: anything that slows the bacterial growth in the meat allows them to be kept on the display longer and handled with lesser care, leading to greater profits. Your proposition is nothing more than an attempt to get around the "truth in advertising" by changing the meaning of "truth".

A lie of omission is still a lie. Selling someone a food that has been purposefully injected with bacteria-killing viruses and neglecting to mention this, when such injections aren't common knowledge, makes you a fraudster and deserves you a long visit in the local jail. Whether or not these viruses are actually good for the customer is completely irrelevant to the matter; that you took the choice out of his hands, and in fact made it so that he never even knew that there was any choice involved, is in itself wrong.

It is very tempting to take the choice out of people's hands "for their own good", but that's the exact same attitude that led to the Prohibition, Comics Code, content filtering in public libraries, dress codes in public schools, and Jack Thompson's crusade against games. It is wrong, it has always been wrong, and it will never stop being wrong, no matter how stupid you think the masses are being.

You are all missing the point (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941367)

I am not speaking of giving a composition in the meaning of all fungus and bacteria which CONTAMINATED the product, but i am for labelling everything which was intentionally put in it. Hormon treatment for beef (yes in some country those are forbidden), genetically modified soja, phage on the meat. You are missing the point also about the phage being innocuous. Beef hormone and modified soja is also innocuous. Aspartame too. But this is about CHOICE and being able to make one or inform oneselves. If you do not know something was ADDED or MODIFIED in the prodct you buy... Well you have taken the choice from the people. You might as well give us feed bag with "trust us" written in big bold red lettering. PS: I understand very well those phage are innocuous. What i am reacting allergically is all mention of "won't be needed to be on the labbeling". Just like genetically modified food.

Re:Cue John Q Public (1)

uarch (637449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941113)

Its already happened... Look at the top-level post directly below yours

Re:Cue John Q Public (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941118)

Note that there are implications to this "bacteriological pesticide": while the phages are naturally occuring viruses, they are not normally ingested in large amounts. It is not inconcievable that they could have effects, for example, on the bacterial culture in our intestines. I hope someone here is knowledgeable enough to comment on this.

you mean lysteria hysteria? (1)

Luxifer (725957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941123)

see subject.

haha... I kill me.

Re:Cue John Q Public (2, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941155)

Expect some mild hysteria over this and some nuts demanding labelling.

You have to be a nut to want to know what additives are in your food?

Are vegans nuts if they want to know if enzymes from animal sources are added to their food? Are Jews or Muslims nuts because they want to know if pork products are added to their food? What about people who are allergic to peanuts, are they nuts to want to know when their foods are prepared with peanuts? How about people who are allergic to eggs? What about people who are lactose intolerant?

It's only reasonable for manufacturers to list the contents of the food products that they place on the market.

LK

Cue Bill Z. Businessman (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941157)

The press coverage has been woefully bad with respect to explaining that these are not your average run-of-the-mill viruses, but rather are bacteriophages that can only infect bacteria. Expect some mild hysteria over this and some nuts demanding labelling.

I was expecting more of a "We can't label this, consumers would freak out if they knew!" reaction from businesses.

Exactly that argument was used to strike down requirements that "GM" (genetically modified) food be labelled. Businesses, with a straight face, told the government regulators that if they required labelling, consumers wouldn't buy their products. God forbid consumers be allowed to make a choice as to whether they want genetically modified foods or not...and if you're afraid they won't choose genetically modified foods- maybe you shouldn't make them.

Most people's fears come from the business world constantly (and consistently) putting profits ahead of public health. Industries whine about reglation, but they brought it upon themselves, as almost every piece of regulation on the books were brought about by someone doing something they shouldn't have- all because it made more profit.

Re:Cue Bill Z. Businessman (3, Interesting)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941365)

Most people's fears come from the business world constantly (and consistently) putting profits ahead of public health.
Except no one has provided any evidence whatsoever that genetically modified foods are less healthy. All you have is Greenpeace's paranoid ravings about frankenfood, and how it's "not natural". We do not require labels for hybridized foods, or any other type of food we might breed inside or outside of a laboratory, so why single out GM? Is it simply because people have watched far too many monster movies where an unwitting scientist unleashes a monster on the world?

Re:Cue John Q Public (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941159)

I still don't understand what the big deal is with radiating fruits and vegetables... Because of the fruitcakes, now we are limited to organic vegetables with various insects, or pesticides.

Re:Cue John Q Public (2, Insightful)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941273)

Why did the parent get modded troll?

Irradiating foods (not making them radioactive, but exposing them to radiation) used to be an accepted practice of reducing the microbial load on fruits and vegatables, making them less likely to give you food poisoning. But then people, like the moderator, thought "Irradiation = Nuk-u-lar = glow-in-the-dark = CANCER!" and the practice stopped.

other effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941190)

While bacteriophages may not infect human cells, their presence might conceivably have other effects on humans. It might wind up being as dangerous as peanuts, for instance; most people can eat them with no problem, but one person in umpteen-thousand could experience anaphylaxis. I have no problem w/ requiring food with viral preservatives added be labeled as such.

Re:Cue John Q Public (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941304)

Expect some mild hysteria over this and some nuts demanding labelling.
Yes, ok, these are to some degree different from virusy viruses. However, hysteria aside, this is extremely unpalatable. That's one very damn good reason to expect, or indeed demand, a label for this process.

Seriously, good food does actually grow on trees - there's no legitimate reason (other than squeezing the last cent out of production) for screwing around with it. Me, I'll pay you extra to leave it alone, and I'll probably live healthier and longer too.

Opening doors. (0, Redundant)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941083)

Once this kind of technique prooves successful in real-world applications, maybe cancer-killing virus research will obtain more funding! As someone knowing people with so-far uncurable cancers, this makes me excited for the future of medicine.

Re:Opening doors. (1, Funny)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941145)

We're geeks. Screw cancer. Acne is caused, in part by, P. acnes. While we are at it, tooth decay is cause primarily by Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus. Lack of sex is called by Geekoccus maximus. Lets get some phages to eat this suckers.

Re:Opening doors. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941168)

Lack of sex is called by Geekoccus maximus.

We geeks don't need no sex. We have virtual reality sex

I've heard about this before... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941093)

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I dunno why she swallowed that fly, Perhaps she'll die. There was an old lady who swallowed a spider, That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly - Perhaps she'll die. There was an old lady who swallowed a bird; How absurd, to swallow a bird! She swallowed the bird to catch the spider That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly - Perhaps she'll die There was an old lady who swallowed a cat. Imagine that, she swallowed a cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ... She swallowed the bird to catch the spider That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly Perhaps she'll die There was an old lady who swallowed a dog. What a hog! To swallow a dog! She swallowed the dog to catch the cat... She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ... She swallowed the bird to catch the spider That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly Perhaps she'll die. There was an old lady who swallowed a goat. Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat! She swallowed the goat to catch the dog ... She swallowed the dog to catch the cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ... She swallowed the bird to catch the spider That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly Perhaps she'll die. There was an old lady who swallowed a cow. I don't know how she swallowed a cow! She swallowed the cow to catch the goat... She swallowed the goat to catch the dog... She swallowed the dog to catch the cat... She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ... She swallowed the bird to catch the spider That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly Perhaps she'll die. There was an old lady who swallowed a horse - She's dead, of course.

Re:I've heard about this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941265)

If she'd have had a wafer thin mint she'd be fine.

Known versus unknown (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941098)

Yay, let's trade off a few hundred known deaths with the unknown health effects of this new virus. I suppose food labeling won't be required to show that this is added, because "we're sure there are no negative health effects and wouldn't want you, the idiot consumer (literally) deciding for yourself".

Re:Known versus unknown (1)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941183)

unknown health effects of this new virus

Right, because the FDA doesn't do any type of testing at all before approving such things.
(I know, I'm probably feeding a troll, but how does a troll get modded insightful?)

Re:Known versus unknown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941258)

Right, because the FDA doesn't do any type of testing at all before approving such things.
(I know, I'm probably feeding a troll, but how does a troll get modded insightful?)


Because a moderator agreed with the OP's politics?

Re:Known versus unknown (1)

Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941261)

Right. Because we all know that the FDA has *never* approved anything that turned out to be harmful after all.

Just quit fucking with my food, because nature is "inconvenient" to deal with in maximising profits.

Re:Known versus unknown (2, Insightful)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941358)

Right, because the FDA is a giant industry+military+government complex out to drug all of you and turn you into mindless sheep so you can be controlled... Grass for dinner then?

Do you seriously think anything you eat is "natural"?

Selective breeding in crops and animals have been done for centries to maximise profits. That's not natural

Irrigating land that is normally not suitable for farming. That's not natural.

People just accept what they can understand, and reject anything that they don't comprehend.

Re:Known versus unknown (0, Offtopic)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941354)

I know, I'm probably feeding a troll, but how does a troll get modded insightful?

You must be new here. :-| It happens all too often.

Re:Known versus unknown (1)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941196)

... I suppose food labeling won't be required to show that this is added...
I have an issue with a kneejerk reaction to add labeling. Mainly, the vast majority of people don't read the labels. So adding a warning does little. Furthermore, its getting to the point that so many warnings are being put on consumer goodss, that the warnings get lost in a sea of noise. Take a simple electronic device such as a radio, it typically comes with a small booklet full of warnings. Honestly, when was the last time anyone on Slashdot read those warnings. To me, it is far more effective to insist that adequate testing is conducted to ensure that something is safe. Beyond that, adding another warning, to the long lists of warnings I see everyday, will accomplish nothing.

Re:Known versus unknown (1)

bjason82 (820735) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941249)

Yeah, I love how they're now modifying our food sources. I mean, its no secret they've been pumping beef with hormones and anti-biotics for some time now, but I have a real problem with them genetically modifying agricultural products that the public has no control over. It would be possible for some organization bent on reducing the world population to genetically modify our food sources so the population gradually dies off.

Now take a look at viruses...anyone who reads about the latest ideas in science will know that gene therapy researchers are looking at ways of using viruses to deliver genetic information. Therefore, dousing our food with viral agents can potentially allow for some very bad things to happen. I think most will agree, its better to remove the temptation or the ability to cause great harm to those who might do so by preventing the enabling condition in the first place.

It is important for the people of a free democratic society to keep those in-check who feel entitled to the power they have been granted. Unfortuantely, this day in age we have been so brainwashed and propagandized by the government-media complex (aka government & corporations) that we allow them do to whatever they want at our expense.

Distrust is your greatest ally.

Re:Known versus unknown (1)

Punchcardz (598335) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941336)

Anyone who reads about the latest ideas in science might also know that not all viruses are created equal when it comes to using them as a transfection vector.

Small quantities (4, Interesting)

Skotlake (891399) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941102)

. . which in small quantities likely wouldn't cause health problems anyway . .

But small quantities build up over time! I got a fortune cookie a few weeks ago that puts it best: "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

Re:Small quantities (1)

violent.ed (656912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941135)

I for one welcome our new bacteria killing, avalanche causing, virus overlords.

Re:Small quantities (1)

Captain Jack Taylor (976465) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941163)

Thankfully I don't eat luncheon meats very often, maybe once or twice every five yeras. I for one will be fine. I'll also keep an eye out for what else this crap ends up in. :)

Re:Small quantities (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941170)

But small quantities build up over time!

Yes, irritants cause cancer.

Don't worry. We can trust the people who brought us BSE, growth hormones, high fructose corn syrup and the current obesity epidemic can't we? Ronald loves you.

Re:Small quantities (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941187)

You can't really blame big business for BSE.

LK

Re:Small quantities (1)

Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941275)

Yeah, other than that whole "feeding dead diseased animals to the livestock because it's cheaper" thing.

Re:Small quantities (1)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941292)

Yes you can. BSE was transmitted in cattle by feeding cattle with dead cattle bits to save money and improve the cattle's nutrition.

The cattle were being fed bones and brains from other cattle, one or more of which was infected with BSE. The cattle who ate this got BSE. Some of these cows were infected and killed when they showed symptoms of BSE. The corpses were not suitable for human consumption, but got fed back to the cattle. (Think Soylant Green for Cows!)

They did it when they didn't know BSE was transmitted this way, but you can blame big business for BSE.

Re:Small quantities (1)

FooBarWidget (556006) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941299)

Why can't the body remove those small quantities?

Re:Small quantities (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941368)

Small quantities _don't_ build up over time if the body can metabolize or excrete them. Metabolizing and excreting are two tasks that your body is remarkably good at performing. Then again, we don't really have a basis for judgment on that because we're not told what those residues might be.

phages (5, Informative)

Luxifer (725957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941108)

This is very cool. I remember the Russians were working on killing bacterial infections in people (Tuberculosis, Leprosy, even Flesh eating disease) with Phages. That was in the 70s. It's about time someone came up with something successful.
    By the way these are completely harmless to humans, in fact to all plants and animals. The phage is a very simple virus with a small genome that gets injected into the bacterium and does the standard virus things (hijacks the host's systems to replicate itself a billion times). The cell explodes, releasing billions more phages. These phages have been our tools for a long time in biology, we use them to move genes around, for making libraries of genes, all sorts of neato stuff. There's little we don't know about them, so they're a good candidate for this task. There is no way these can make the leap from infecting bacteria to infecting higher organisms, any more than a plant could suddenly start walking around.
    I could think of a few things that are possible, for example if it mutated enough to find our host bacteria a good target then that might cause problems, but again, very doubtful.
   

Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941220)

remember the Russians were working on killing bacterial infections in people (Tuberculosis, Leprosy, even Flesh eating disease) with Phages. That was in the 70s.

In Soviet Russia, viruses kill bacteria!

Ok, ok, it needs some work.

Re:Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941360)

In Soviet Russia, doctor infects you!

as if it were not enough to eat the innocently (0, Troll)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941129)

slauthtered cow, now we're adding innocently slaughtered bacteria to the whole meal.

What happens.. (2, Interesting)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941130)

.. after you've eaten it? Does the virus then die off in your digestive track? How does it die - when it has run out of bacteria to consume??

Re:What happens.. (2, Informative)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941194)

It's likely only capable of infecting Listeria. Once inside your digestive tract, it'll get killed by stomach acids, digestive enzymes, etc. etc. Anything that gets into your system (i.e. outside the digestive tract) will be taken care of by your immune system and the rest goes into the toilet.

viruses are not alive (1)

Luxifer (725957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941224)

Viruses don't carry out metabolism, they can't reproduce themselves (they rely on the host for that), they don't do any of the stuff that we use to define life. There is nothing to die off.

Secret Sauce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941142)

A burger joint's "secret sauce" used to be (loosely) protected by trade secrets. In the future it'll be protected because a stretch of some virus' DNA is patented.

AKbar and Jeff's Weenie Barn's secret sauce feeds you twice! You get to eat the weenie, and then also reap the benefits of photosynthesis as the sauce's green viruses set up shop inside your skin!

To be overheard: (1, Redundant)

cli_rules! (915096) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941143)

Excuse me waiter, but - there's a virus in my spam.

The secret ingredient is... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941146)

Viruses in our food? I think I can see the into the not-so-distant future...

FDA approves the sale of new Hormel vegetarian alternative food
Hormel will begin marketing it's unique new meat alternative this month under the name Soylent Green. "We've been pushing for FDA approval for some time, and we're happy we'll finally be able to offer such a wonderful product to our customers," said PR spokesperson Adele Wright.

When asked about the unusual color, Wright responded, "We were very inspired by Dr. Seuss, and saw the success that Heinz had with their green ketchup. Such a fun looking food will appeal to children, who are notoriously finicky eaters. Soylent Green offers all the benefits of a vegetarian diet, but without missing any of the flavor. Soylent Green has a distinct flavor that we think will be quite popular."

Imitators, however, do not have Hormel concerned. "We keep our secret recipe closely guarded," says Hormel CEO Dr. Hannibal Lector. "We don't anticipate anybody coming up with a knock-off product any time soon."

Most people, though, are probably only interested in the taste. The Star's very own food critic Ken Prescott offers his opinion: "Soylent Green is really just vegetarian spam: it has a funny color, and a taste like nothing else. A lot of people like Spam, and a lot of people hate it. Soylent Green is the same - how it tastes will vary from person to person."

Re:The secret ingredient is... (1)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941215)

We already eat fungus. I am mean man made fungus, not just mushrooms. Quorn --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn [wikipedia.org]

Disclosure (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941161)

I don't have an opinion on this one way or the other, but why do they need to leave consumers unaware of whether this is being used? Anything that goes into our food should be clearly labeled as being used in the process. I find it especially hypocritical since FDA claims there is no harm in this. If there is no harm, I see no reason not to specifically state what it is we are buying.

As it stands all this will do is drive more people with means to Whole Foods and the like, (and increase their share price in the process).

Incidentally, once FDA made it mandatory to label products with an amount of "transfat" contained in them, many common foods that used transfats have been reformulated not to do that. Trans-fats are brought into food from margarine/hydrogenated oil, and these are a known health hazard, of course. Interestingly, FDA guidelines leave a lot of wiggle room to manufacturers, allowing products with less then 0.5 gram of trans-far per serving to be labeled as trans-fat free. 0.5 gram of fat is quite a significant amount, especially since it is easy to go just under that by simply stating smaller "serving size". However, even under these half-honest guidelines of disclosure consumers have benefitted from better products. Disclosure is always good.

LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941166)

Gary: "Hey Ace, this steak tastes great! What is your secret ingredient?"
Ace: "AIDS."

Actually it's more than just a virus... (2, Informative)

Assassin bug (835070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941185)

It's a bacteriophage [wikipedia.org] . These things target specific bacteria and it is thought that it is very difficult for bacteria to develope resistance against them. So, they are a much better option and probably less environmentally sensitive that most general antibiotics (to which many bacteria have developed resistance). If you don't know what these phages are you should really visit the Wiki link above (they are really wicked looking and interesting).

Sounds sane, but people will freak over it. (1)

TechGranny (987537) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941189)

This sounds very sane and quite promising, but people will freak out over it because it sounds wierd. Maybe they could give the strains cartoon names and splashy little cartoon characters. They need a little ad campaign to educate folks. Seriously. People are programmed to think that all virii are bad.

I am all for more safety and better assurances on quality, but I wonder if the public will be able to understand it. From some of the comments here, I think a lot of folks will look at the phages in a strange way.

The thing is.. almost everything we touch is already freaking nasty, so we need some little guys on our side. I would eat a something treated with this without a doubt. Well without a second doubt. Its hard to overcome all the social programming about viruses, etc.. Truth is though a lot of them are beneficial. We just hardly ever hear about them.

Aren't preconceptions fun? :)

Re:Sounds sane, but people will freak over it. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941320)

so we need some little guys on our side

You know, I think you hit on the slogan they need to sell this to John Q. Stupid.

"These little guys are on *our* side!"

minor typo... (2, Informative)

Bazman (4849) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941198)

It should be 'bacteria-killing virus'. A virus that kills bacteria. The hyphen is important, it differentiates between 'man-eating shark' and 'man eating shark'.

Probably the tenth time I've complained about grammar on slashdot :)

B

Re:minor typo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941296)

"Probably the tenth time I've complained about grammar on slashdot :)"

Poor in grammer, this sentence is.

+1 if you can tell us all why. ;p

like fluoridation in my water (1)

ssrs396 (988442) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941207)

I think consumers are less likely to understand bacteria-killing viruses than fluoridated water. Consumer rights groups will raise a stink, there will be an ineffective health benefits advertising campaign, and the concept will die for a while. It might work very well for protecting food supplies in 3rd world countries or in places where the disclosure laws are different.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941310)

Then you fire bomb the consumer rights group's offices. It's time to start fighting back against willful and extreme ignorance. We're sitting here dependent on foriegn oil because the IGNORANT FUCKHEADS won the nuclear power battle. Enough alreay. KILL STUPID PEOPLE!

Labelling? - Apparently not (5, Insightful)

CCW (125740) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941211)

I'm rather ticked off that once again (like with irradiated meat) the food industry thinks that consumers have no right to know what is in what they are eating. (and I think treating meat with radiation and bacteriophages is a good thing. I just think people have a right to know.)

The problem is the food industry and USDA wants the benefits of science without taking any responsibility for educating a population woefully ignorant about science.

The other side of it of course is that treating meat so it can sit on a shelf longer has no real benefit for the consumer (other than not getting sick from spoiled meat) - the meat packers benefit greatly with lower costs, but why shouldn't consumers get some of the benefit in the form of lower prices? Hiding whether it is treated is a way to capture all the benefit for the producers.

Re:Labelling? - Apparently not (1)

Kitten Killer (766858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941306)

I would argue that treating the meat so it can sit on the shelf longer also implies it can sit inside a consumer's fridge longer too. It also reduces waste in resources, so a good thing all around?

If the market is competitive (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941362)

Then one meat packer will think "Hey, my costs are lower now, I can offer the supermarket chains a discount and take business away from all the other meat packers".

The only objection to labeling that makes sense is that it's hard to know where to stop. Hormone treatments? Antibiotic treatments? Preservatives in the feed? Insects in the packing plant? Trace chemicals in the soil that grew the grass? We all like information, but if there's a health issue the answer isn't to label it but to ban it.

Why Now? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941230)

Bacteriophage has been known about for a long time — long before it was identified as viruses. There's a novel [gutenberg.net.au] written in 1925 that has a doctor using bacteriophage to fight bubonic plague. So I have to wonder why it's taken this long to develop such an obvious application.

Why not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15941250)

...concentrate on creating food products that aren't as succeptable to deadly bacteria, so you won't have to engineer viruses to combat them? A bunch of cold cuts laying in the Wal Mart deli don't seem very hygenic to begin with.

condiments, hah (1)

SgtXaos (157101) | more than 7 years ago | (#15941325)

I guess Heinz is gonna have to print new labels:

  "58" varieties

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