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Phage 'cocktail' wipes out 99 percent of E. coli in meat, spinach

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Treating food products with select bacteriophages - viruses that target and kill bacteria - could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli, a Purdue University study shows.

An injection of bacteriophages - also known informally as "phages" - nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, in some cases decreasing E. coli concentrations by about 99 percent.

The study suggests that bacteriophage treatment could be an effective tool to help ensure the safety of food products, said Paul Ebner, associate professor of animal sciences.

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