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Garlic May Prevent Deadly Stomach Infections in Formula Fed Babies

Update Date: Nov 26, 2013 02:44 PM EST

Giving babies garlic may help reduce their risk of deadly stomach infections, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that diallyl sulfide and ajoene, which are two compounds derived from garlic, significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii in the production of dry infant formula powder.

Cronobacter sakazakii is a food borne bacterium that can be present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. While the infection is rare, it is often fatal for infants and can lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis.

Researcher Xiaonan Lu, corresponding author and assistant professor of food safety engineering in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, believes the latest discovery could make infant formula safer to consume.

"A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process," Lu said in a news release. "They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer."

Researchers believe that that diallyl sulfide and ajoene can 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," said Lu. "We believe these compounds are more beneficial in protecting babies against this pathogen."

The findings are published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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