Scientists at the University of Alberta and University College Cork in Ireland have found a way to use bacteria to prevent mold from eating up your leftover food. Their research is based on a study of sourdough bread, which doesn’t go moldy like other types of bread. Special bacteria that produce fungus-resistant acids during sourdough production may play a key role in extending the shelf life of bread and other foods, researchers say. The study was recently published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Mold stays away from sour foods, including sourdough bread, because of an extra fermentation step during which lactobacilli bacteria creates acids that resist fungus. The researchers claim that their findings may prove valuable in malting and plant production and help create tools to extend the shelf life of foods. The next step in the research will be to repeat the tests using another, less expensive source of linoleic acid and find out why the lactobacili convert linoleic acid into hydroxy fatty acids.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of the world’s food goes uneaten. Companies are constantly looking for a way of keeping their products fresh for longer periods of time. Texas company MicroZap has developed a technology that can keep a loaf of bread fresh for 60 days. They use microwave-like units to bombard food with high-energy particles and sterilize it, killing mold spores. This new bacteria-fueled way of keeping fungus away from food could—the researchers hope—revolutionize the food industry.