Bread lasting 60 days to cut food waste – brains might help, too

An American company has developed a technique that it says can make bread stay mould-free for 60 days. The bread is zapped in a sophisticated microwave array which kills the spores that cause the problem.

The company claims it could significantly reduce the amount of wasted bread – in the UK alone, almost a third of loaves purchased.

The technique can also be used with a wide range of foods including fresh turkey and many fruits and vegetables.

Food waste is a massive problem in most developed countries. In the US, figures released this year suggest that the average American family throws away 40% of the food they purchase – which adds up to $165 billion annually.

Bread is a major culprit, with 32% of loaves purchased in the UK thrown out as waste when they could be eaten, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs…

In normal conditions, bread will go mouldy in around 10 days. But an American company called Microzap says it has developed a technique that will keep the bread mould free for two months.

At its laboratory on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, chief executive Don Stull showed off the long, metallic microwave device…Originally designed to kill bacteria such as MRSA and salmonella, the researchers discovered it could kill the mould spores in bread in around 10 seconds.

“We treated a slice of bread in the device, we then checked the mould that was in that bread over time against a control, ” he explained. “And at 60 days it had the same mould content as it had when it came out of the oven…”

…There is also a concern that consumers might not take to bread that lasts for so long. Mr Stull acknowledges it might be difficult to convince some people of the benefits.

NSS! If it wasn’t a concern – we’d already be using less-expensive gamma radiation to produce the same result. My friends in the organic wing of the foodie religion are thoroughly capable of crapping their jeans over any scientific method of destroying harmful critters in our food.

It doesn’t matter how many tests demonstrate no residue left behind from any sort of radiation used to sterilize a food product. They will remain convinced that little atomic rays are still whizzing about inside the bread crust ready to turn us into green mutants with vestigial gill covers. Lazy-ass journalists and editors will slop their fears out into the general public because, after all, tales of panic are profitable.

Not wasting food might be worth considering, as well. Naw. That’s probably unAmerican.

New Zombie ant fungi discovered in Brazilian rainforest

A stalk of the newfound fungus grows out of a “zombie” ant’s head

Originally thought to be a single species, called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the fungus is actually four distinct species—all of which can “mind control” ants—scientists announced Wednesday.

The fungus species can infect an ant, take over its brain, and then kill the insect once it moves to a location ideal for the fungi to grow and spread their spores.

All four known fungi species live in Brazil’s Atlantic rain forest, which is rapidly changing due to climate change and deforestation, said study leader David Hughes, an entomologist at Penn State University.

Hughes and colleagues made the discovery after noticing a wide diversity of fungal growths emerging from ant victims, according to the March 2 study in the journal PLoS ONE.

“It is tempting to speculate that each species of fungus has its own ant species that it is best adapted to attack,” Hughes said.

“This potentially means thousands of zombie fungi in tropical forests across the globe await discovery,” he said. “We need to ramp up sampling—especially given the perilous state of the environment.”

Now, if the stalks extending from the skulls of zombie ants could be used to communicate, produce a hive mentality like some kind of ant-Borg, we could produce a film scary enough, profitable enough, to fund studies for quite a while.

Thanks to wok3