Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Compound In Salsa May Fight Food Poisoning

Date:
May 25, 2004
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers have identified a compound in cilantro, a key flavor component of salsa and a variety of other dishes, that kills harmful Salmonella bacteria and shows promise as a safe, natural food additive that could help prevent foodborne illness, according to a joint study by U.S. and Mexican researchers.

Researchers have identified a compound in cilantro, a key flavor component of salsa and a variety of other dishes, that kills harmful Salmonella bacteria and shows promise as a safe, natural food additive that could help prevent foodborne illness, according to a joint study by U.S. and Mexican researchers.

Although previous studies by the researchers showed that salsa has antibacterial activity, this new study represents the first time that they have isolated any of the antibacterial compounds from it. Their study appears in the May 26 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The compound — dodecenal — was isolated from the fresh leaves of cilantro, or coriander, one of the main ingredients found in salsa, along with tomatoes, onions and green chilies. The compound also is found in the seeds of cilantro. Both leaves and seeds contain about the same amount of dodecenal, but the leaves are used more abundantly in salsa.

In laboratory tests, dodecenal was twice as potent as the commonly used medicinal antibiotic gentamicin at killing Salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness, the researchers say. It is the only naturally occurring antibacterial that is more effective than gentamicin against Salmonella, they claim.

"We were surprised that dodecenal was such a potent antibiotic," says study leader Isao Kubo, Ph.D., a chemist with the University of California, Berkeley. Most natural antibacterial agents found in food generally have weak activity.

"The study suggests that people should eat more salsa with their food, especially fresh salsa," Kubo adds.

In addition to dodecenal, about a dozen other antibiotic compounds were isolated from fresh cilantro that show some activity against a variety of harmful bacteria. Salsa likely contains even more antibacterial compounds that have not yet been identified, according to Kubo.

The findings could lead to expanded use of dodecenal as a tasteless food additive to prevent foodborne illness, perhaps as a protective coating for meats in processing plants, or even as a general purpose disinfectant to be used in cleaning and hand washing, Kubo says.

But don't rely on salsa alone to safeguard your food: There's only a small amount of the potent antibacterial in a typical serving. "If you were eating a hot dog or hamburger," explains Kubo, "you would probably have to eat an equivalent weight of cilantro to have an optimal effect against food poisoning."

The researchers say that their lab does not plan to market dodecenal as a bacteria fighter or test it further to see if it works in humans. But they acknowledge that their findings are attractive for industry and others wanting to develop better ways to combat foodborne illness.

Dodecenal also shows promise in side-stepping the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. The researchers believe the compound works by destroying the cell membrane of bacteria, similar to the way soap kills bacteria. As the compound does not appear to interfere with any of the protein-manufacturing machinery of the cell, as occurs with many commercial antibiotics, bacteria are less likely to develop resistance to it, Kubo says.

Whether you choose to eat salsa with your tacos, chips or chicken, keep in mind that there's no substitute for proper storage, handling and cooking of any food in order to prevent foodborne illness, according to health experts.

The University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) provided funding for this study.

Kubo's associates in this study were Ken-ichi Fujita, Aya Kubo and Ken-ichi Nihei, of UC Berkeley, and Tetsuya Ogura, of Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Compound In Salsa May Fight Food Poisoning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040525060756.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2004, May 25). Compound In Salsa May Fight Food Poisoning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040525060756.htm
American Chemical Society. "Compound In Salsa May Fight Food Poisoning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040525060756.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins