Elanco, the same company that jumped feet-first into the controversy surrounding artificial recombinant bovine growth hormones with its 2008 purchase of the Posilac brand from Monsanto, has now moved into the food safety business with Elanco Food Solutions.

meat-testing.jpgThe company is going to be competing in that seemingly growing field of processing agents to make meat safer, adding options to a list that already includes ammonia, chlorine, carbon monoxide, and maybe even irradiation down the road.

A division of Eli Lilly, Indiana-based Elanco made the announcement in a Jan. 18 press release that has appeared verbatim in much of the country’s agricultural press.

“We realize there is no single ‘silver-bullet’ solution,” said K. Douglas Miller, director for the new company, in that release, but EFS believes it can put a dent into the problem with pre- and post-slaughter formulas.

Two of those products are hitting the marketplace already thanks in part to a partnership with Baton Rouge, La.-based Albemarle Corp.

“A global supplier of specialty chemicals,” Albemarle produces chemicals for products ranging from flame-retardants and organometallics to Ibuprofen and potassium chemicals for use in numerous products, including glass and agrichemicals. More notably, Albemarle produces a wide range of bromine-based products, which is where they and EFS come together.

Bovibrom and Avibrom are bromine-based washes designed as “post-harvest” cleaners, intended to be used as rinses for whole animal carcasses after they’ve been processed.

Used in highly diluted forms, the solutions can be used as sprays or even in baths to kill off Salmonella and E. coli.

Part of the appeal of Bovibrom is that, unlike other chemicals such as chlorine, bromine doesn’t discolor the meat and is far less corrosive to equipment. 

Used properly, according to a release issued this week by Elanco Food Solutions, BoviBrom “forms a near-neutral (6.8) pH solution in water that is safe for workers, plant equipment, and the environment.”

Nonetheless, several bromide derivatives have been identified as health hazards and phased out from use in the United States, and many more have been implicated as possible carcinogens.

A third product, Finalyse, is a pre-wash, to be used just before animals are slaughtered. It’s different from Bovibrom in that it’s a bacteriophage, which uses viruses already found in human and animal guts to attack and diminish bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.

Finalyse, according to EFS, can dramatically reduce the presence of E. coli on the hide, thereby helping to reduce the amount of the pathogen in trim after slaughter.

If Albemarle’s entry into food safety seems a little unusual, it’s not new. Albemarle is continually searching for new uses for bromide, even though other agricultural uses of the element, as fumigants for example, have been banned.

Close ties preceded its relationship with Elanco Food Solutions with another company, Ivy Natural Solutions that developed Finalyse.

Elanco bought out Ivy in 2007.