Bacillus species have been used extensively in the fermentation industry for the production of a range of products including enzymes, fine biochemicals, antibiotics, and insecticides. In addition, a strain of B. subtilis is used for the fermentation of soybeans to Natto, an extensively consumed (~108 kg/annum) traditional Japanese food product. In a review of the safety of B. subtilis and B. amylo-liquefaciens (these strains were considered to be synonymous up to 1973 ), no reports were found of infection or toxicity relating to B. amyloliquefaciens. In the case of B. subtilis, the situation was complicated by the fact that before about 1970 diagnostic laboratories did not distinguish between B. cereus and B. subtilis. Virtually all reports of putative B. subtilis infections since that time either were associated with drug abuse or occurred in patients whose immune system had been compromised by treatment with immunosuppressants or chemotherapeutic agents. This low incidence of pathogenicity and the widespread use of their products in the food, beverage, and detergents industries have resulted in GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status being granted to these species by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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