Antibacterial garlic compounds could help keep food and infant formula contaminant-free

Friday, December 06, 2013 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: garlic, antibacterial compounds, food contaminants

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(NaturalNews) Garlic, which has been grown and cultivated for more than 5,000 years, is a highly respected food medicine in various cultures. It drives away bacteria, fights infections and preserves food from outside contaminates.

Garlic - ancient medicine known for "warding off evil spirits"

Research shows that garlic was used as a daily staple for Ancient Egyptians. Garlic was given to the builders of the pyramids to help build their strength and ward off illness. When King Tut's tomb was discovered, it was actually shrouded with preserved bulbs of garlic!

Ancient Greek culture utilized garlic as well. Hippocrates, known as the "father of medicine," prescribed garlic for infections, wounds, digestive disorders, heart problems and even leprosy.

Various cultures revered garlic for its mystic ability to "ward off evil spirits."

A new report from British Columbia provides new evidence of garlic's ability to ward off specific pathogens that can make their way into fortified foods like dry infant formula.

Maybe this is what ancient cultures believed when they declared that garlic could "ward off evil spirits." Since pathogens are impossible to see with the naked eye, maybe these bacteria and viruses were thought of as evil spirits.

Two compounds from garlic ward off pathogen C. sakazakii

With a name that sounds like some kind of evil spirit, Cronobacter sakazakii, is a pathogen that can appear during the food manufacturing process of dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. C. sakazakii can form in infant formula and can even be fatal to infants, poisoning their blood and welcoming life threatening illnesses like meningitis.

A detailed study from the University of British Columbia reports that this evil pathogen can be held at bay when fortified foods like dry infant formula powder are mixed with two compounds derived from garlic - diallyl sulfide and ajoene.

Diallyl sulfide is the functional sulfur-containing compound that is found in garlic and has a strong odor. Produced during the decomposition of allicin (garlic's main active ingredient), diallyl sulfide is released after garlic has been crushed.

Ajoene, first isolated from garlic in 1984, is a mixture of two isomers that occur after allicin has been released through the crushing of garlic and after it has been mixed with a solvent, which typically includes an edible oil like olive, coconut or hemp seed.

Xiaonan Lu, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor of food safety engineering in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, states, "A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process. They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer."

Lu and fellow researchers used confocal-microscopic lasers and high-throughput RNA sequencing to systematically determine the antimicrobial mechanism of the garlic compounds diallyl sulfide and ajoene on the pathogen cronabacter sakazakii.

Garlic compounds could be used in other sterilizing applications in the kitchen and food manufacturing process

Lu believes these garlic compounds could prevent contamination in other areas of the kitchen, including food contact surfaces, packaging, processing and delivery.

This is great news for the food manufacturing industry and the culinary industry, which could use the garlic compounds in place of chemicals to create a more natural-minded, less toxic environment.

Lu affirms, "Pipes used in the manufacturing of milk products are typically cleaned with chemicals like chlorine, but these garlic compounds are a natural alternative. We believe these compounds are more beneficial in protecting babies against this pathogen."

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