Healthy living

Garlic compound 'fights food poisoning bacteria'

Garlic compound  fights food poisoning bacteria More effective than antibiotics

A compound found in garlic could be used in the fight against food poisoning, new research suggests.

US researchers say that a garlic-derived compound called diallyl sulphide is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting Campylobacter bacteria, the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

The bacterium is estimated to cause up to 400,000 cases of food poisoning a year in England and Wales.

Most cases of food poisoning arise from eating raw or undercooked poultry or food that has been cross-contaminated by coming into contact with surfaces or utensils used to prepare poultry.

Campylobacter bacteria live in colonies in a slimy biofilm which can stick to food, utensils and kitchen surfaces. The biofilm also partially protects the bacteria from antibiotics.

But the researchers from Washington State University found that the garlic compound easily penetrated this protective biofilm and killed the bacteria.

In laboratory tests, diallyl sulphide was 100 times more effective than the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, and often worked in "a fraction of the time."

While eating garlic is generally regarded as a healthy thing to do, the researchers said it "is unlikely to prevent Campylobacter-related food poisoning."

But the discovery may lead to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces.

In the future, "diallyl sulphide may be useful in reducing the levels of the Campylobacter in the environment and to clean industrial food processing equipment, as the bacterium is found in a biofilm in both settings," they said.

The study is published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

This article was published on Wed 2 May 2012

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