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Pickle Spoilage Bacteria May Help Environment

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Spoilage bacteria that can cause red coloration of pickles' skin during fermentation may actually help clean up dyes in textile industry wastewater, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.

Some species of Lactobacilli-food-related microorganisms-can cause red coloring when combined with tartrazine, a yellow food-coloring agent used in the manufacture of dill pickles. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Ilenys Pérez-Díaz and her colleagues have found that these spoilage Lactobacilli also may have environmental benefits. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

The scientists from the ARS Food Science Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C., noted that several Lactobacilli modify azo dyes, which are used in the textile industry and may wind up in wastewater if untreated. These azo dyes impart vivid and warm colors such as red, orange and yellow to fabric. Though many azo dyes are nontoxic, some have been found to be mutagenic.

This is the first report that food-related microorganisms can transform azo dyes into non-mutagenic substances. The findings from this work have been reported in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.
 
 

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