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Flavor Wrappers Could Be Next Big Thing

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Nov 29, 2006 9:13PM

In news that sounds more like it came from Homaro Cantu's kitchen than from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists have developed a flavor wrapper for food that protects the food from E. coli bacteria and tastes good as well.

2006_11_flavor.jpgThe flavor wrapper is made of oregano oil and apple puree, and it's applied to food as a liquid or a thin film. Researchers experimented with a number of flavor combinations, but found the oregano oil most effective at combatting E. coli bacteria in the lab, "wiping out more than half of sample bacteria in three minutes." Thus far, scientists have only tested the futuristic food protector on actual E. coli bacteria, but they plan to start testing it on actual food, as well as E. coli buddies salmonella and listeriosis.

E. coli contamination can be quite serious as we all remember from the spinach contamination that occurred earlier this year. And while we always maintain an internal philosophy of "better living through chemistry," the flavor wrappers sound iffy to us. USDA researcher Tara McHugh boasts that the apple puree not only enables the oregano coating to stick but also makes it taste good, but we don't want our spinach to taste "good," we just want it to taste like spinach.