A touch of garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula

November 25, 2013

Garlic may be bad for your breath, but it's good for your baby, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

The study, recently published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is the first to identify two compounds derived from garlic – diallyl sulfide and ajoene – that significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii in the production of dry infant formula powder.

The discovery could make the product safer to consume, easing the minds of new mothers who can't or opt not to breastfeed.

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

C. sakazakii is a that is sometimes present in dry powder and other fortified foods. 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.

According to Lu, 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.

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

Explore further: Drinking milk can prevent garlic breath, study finds

More information: aem.asm.org/content/early/2013/11/18/AEM.03460-13

Related Stories

2nd bacterial infection reported in Missouri baby

December 22, 2011

(AP) -- Authorities investigating a possible link between the death of a Missouri newborn and the formula powder he was fed say another baby in the state may have contracted a rare bacterial infection after consuming prepared ...

Garlic doesn’t just repel vampires

August 16, 2011

The folk wisdom that eating garlic fights illness is ancient. In these more modern times, fruit and vegetable extracts that can inhibit the growth of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms are actually being evaluated as ...

Recommended for you

No microbes? No problem for caterpillars

August 22, 2017

The microbiome seems ubiquitous: humans and many other species rely on billions of tiny organisms in their guts to aid in digestion, metabolism and other functions. Now, scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder are ...

How a bacterium can live on methanol

August 22, 2017

ETH Zurich researchers have identified all the genes required by a bacterium to use methanol as a food source. The results will help scientists advance the use of this resource in the field of biotechnology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.