Food processors have traditionally used microbial pollution such as organic acids or peptides (bacteriocins) to limit the growth of microorganisms and postpone spoilage of food.

Food processors have traditionally used microbial pollution such as organic acids or peptides (bacteriocins) to limit the growth of microorganisms and postpone spoilage of food.

The Sea-i Enzymatic Anti-infection System, a natural food protector produced by Bienca S.A., changes this paradigm. Sea-i inhibits microorganism division and stops their metabolite production (pollution). The result is protected food with its original organoleptic quality but no preservatives or pollution.

Sea-i is natural, GRAS and considered an incidental additive by the FDA. It is also certified as Kosher Pareve. Sea-i protects dairy products such as fresh mozzarella, cottage cheese and ice cream mix, for which it is essential to maintain the initial dairy taste while increasing shelf-life.

“Sea-i has another major advantage over more traditional solutions: its broad scope of action. It inhibits both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria as well as yeast and molds,” says Dr. Philippe Lorge, who developed Sea-i.

Numerous challenge studies have demonstrated Sea-i’s broad scope, most recently in an MIF/IDFA study on cottage cheese in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin and Silliker Laboratories. The results show that Sea-i added to product at 55°F outperforms PMO guidelines at 45°F when it comes to pathogen control (Listeria moncytogenes and E.coli), and the redevelopment of leftover culture. Sea-i also outperforms other natural inhibitors. The results were submitted by IDFA to FDA in preparation of the 2009 NCISM conference.

Generally speaking, chemical preservatives inhibit only some types of microorganisms. “Limiting the food protection to only one selective inhibitor increases the risk of promoting unaffected strains, some of which can be pathogenic,” Lorge explains. “When it comes to food protection, a partial solution often amounts to no solution at all.  “There is no alternative to Good Manufacturing Practices and strict procedures to ensure the safety of your product.  In such a processing environment, Sea-i complements and validates efforts to avoid health hazards such as the outbreak of food pathogens. Sea-i will play in the near future a major role as ‘Bests Practice Reference’ for Food Processing.”

The extension of shelf life provided by Sea-i procures many benefits in terms of logistics and productivity, such as larger production runs, fewer warehouses or more economical means of transportation. In a recent study ran by Bienca in collaboration with cottage cheese producers, Sea-i can offer a value chain improvement of nearly 13% thanks to shelf-life extension and overall protection. The results of this study were shown during the IDFA’s Milk and Cultured Dairy Products Symposium in Kansas City earlier this year. It is available  

Since the ingredients of Sea-i are classified as incidental additives by the FDA and as processing aids by Codex Alimentarius (FAO/WHO), its use is typically exempt from labeling. Sea-i is not a preservative but a food freshness protector.

Bienca offers a comprehensive customized service. Every project starts with a study of the product and production process, assessing input, flows, timing and the parameters needed to prepare the trials. Bienca also shares its expertise with its customers to improve the quality and safety of their products.