Garlic ingredient fights food-poisoning

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd May 2012

Researchers at Washington State University have found that an ingredient in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting one of the most common causes of food poisoning.

The researchers say their work, which has been published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, opens the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces.

Dr Xiaonan Lu and his colleagues looked at the ability of a garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide, to kill bacterium when it is protected by a slimy biofilm that makes it 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than the free floating bacterial cell.

They found the compound can easily penetrate the protective biofilm and kill bacterial cells by combining with a sulfur-containing enzyme, subsequently changing the enzyme’s function and effectively shutting down cell metabolism.

The researchers found the diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and often would work in a fraction of the time.

The study’s co-author Dr Michael Konkel said, “This compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply. This is the first step in developing or thinking about new intervention strategies.”

Dr Konkel cautioned that the recent work is still at the basic stage, well removed from an actual application. While eating garlic is a generally healthy practice, by itself it is unlikely to prevent Campylobacter-related food poisoning.

Barbara Rasco, Dr Lu’s advisor said, “Diallyl sulfide could make many foods safer to eat. It can be used to clean food preparation surfaces and as a preservative in packaged foods like potato and pasta salads, coleslaw and deli meats.”