Scientists have found a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective at fighting a common type of bacteria that causes food poisoning, called Campylobacter, than two types of antibiotic.
Campylobacter is commonly found both on the surface of poultry and inside the flesh. Cases of related food poisoning have been rising in recent years, due partly to an increasing fondness for serving ‘pink’ chicken liver pâté.
Now researchers at Washington State University in the US have found that a compound derived from garlic, called diallyl sulphide, is particularly effective at penetrating the slimy film that protects colonies of Campylobacter.
They found that, in a laboratory setting, it was 100 times more effective than the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, and would often work in “a fraction of the time”.
Barbara Rasco, associate professor of food science, said: “Diallyl sulphide 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…”
…Bob Martin, head of foodborne disease strategy at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said: “Levels of Campylobacter in most raw chicken are high so it’s really important that chefs cook livers thoroughly to kill any bacteria, even if recipes call for them to be seared and left pink in the middle.
“The only way of ensuring the pâté or parfait will be safe to serve to your guests or customers is by cooking the livers the whole way through.”
Of course – if food processors were courageous enough to rely on Science 101 – they could just use a simple zap of gamma rays. They leave no trace and will kill any bacteria in their path.
Although “40 garlic cloves-chicken” is one of my favorite recipes.