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Garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula | Updated: 2013-12-05 11:00

Garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula

Garlic [Photo/icpress]

Garlic can significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii, a foodborne pathogen that can lead to fatal infections of infants, in the production of dry infant formula powder, according to a new Canadian study.

The study, published recently in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, identifies for the first time that two compounds derived from garlic -- diallyl sulfide and ajoene -- can make the product safer to consume.

According to the researchers, C. sakazakii infection is rare, but often fatal for infants. It can poison a baby's bloodstream and lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis. Outbreaks of C. sakazakii have occurred worldwide.

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

The garlic compounds could be used to prevent C. sakazakii contamination on food contact surfaces and in every step of food production -- from processing, packaging and delivery, said Lu.

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

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