Soy may prevent microbial contamination of food, researchers say

Derivatives from soy beans could replace antimicrobials and antibiotics that have waning efficacy against food-borne pathogens, researchers in Canada report.

By Stephen Feller

GUELPH, Ontario, April 25 (UPI) -- Derivatives from soybeans may stop the growth of microbial pathogens on food, potentially preventing people from getting sick without coating food with antibiotics, report researchers in Canada.

Researchers at the University of Guelph found in a recent study that isoflavones and peptides from soy beans kill microbes, and may be more effective than chemicals currently used to try to prevent their growth.


Synthetic additives are used for many types of food to prevent bacterial growth, but researchers say they are becoming less effective.

Soy derivatives may be a good option to replace them because soy is already used in so many foods and known to be safe, they say.

"The really exciting thing about this study is that it shows promise in overcoming the issue of current antibiotics killing bacteria indiscriminately, whether they are pathogenic or beneficial," Dr. Suresh Neethirajan, a researcher at the University of Guelth, said in a press release. "You need beneficial bacteria in your intestines to be able to properly process food."

For the study, published in the journal Biochemisty and Physics Reports, the researchers tested effects of the peptides on bacteria, finding it limited the growth of listeria and pseudomonas.


Although larger trials of concentrations tested in the study need to be conducted, the soy derivatives show potential to replace antibiotics that are losing efficacy, the researchers said.

"Heavy use of chemical antimicrobial agents has caused some strains of bacteria to become very resistant to them, rendering them ineffective for the most part," Neethirajan said. "Soy peptides and isoflavones are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and non-toxic. The demand for new ways to combat microbes is huge, and our study suggests soy-based isoflavones and peptides could be part of the solution."

Latest Headlines