Spices and Herbs Fight Foodborne Bacteria
Add a dash of cinnamon here and a little oregano there to add flavor to your foods. But these natural herbs and spices can also help control bacteria and prevent certain foodborne illnesses.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) and Salmonella are common bacteria usually found in beef and poultry. These bacteria cause people to get foodborne illnesses with usual symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Cooking with natural herbs and spices like garlic, salt, oregano, onion, ginger and basil reduces the chances of E. coli and Salmonella bacteria growing in food and making you sick.
Dr. Dan Fung and graduate students in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and Food Science Institute at Kansas State University have conducted extensive research on ways to reduce such bacteria as E. coli and Salmonella in foods. Those researchers found that sprinkling these natural herbs and spices on foods significantly reduces the risks of getting a foodborne illness.
"These findings represent a true reduction in the number of Americans suffering from foodborne illness," said Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. "However, foodborne disease remains a substantial public health burden, and we must continue to expand our efforts to keep America's food supply the safest it can be."
Curtis Kastner, Director of K-State's Food Science Institute said consumers can reduce the risks of illness by taking precautions. "There are many safety tips when handling food, such as washing your hands, disinfecting food-preparation work surfaces like countertops and always cooking with fresh meats, that consumers can use to reduce the risk of getting sick. Each safety tip creates a hurdle for the bacteria to get past."
Using natural herbs and spices when cooking is another way consumers can prevent bacteria from contaminating their food, said Kastner.
Although foodborne illnesses are a major concern, some consumers are not concerned about the risk of bacteria in their food.
"The threat of E. coli and salmonella is not a concern of mine," said Jeanette Rooney, a homemaker in Satanta, Kansas. "I've cooked for years and never had a problem, but it's also nice to know that using spices when I cook could help reduce the chances of these bacteria."
Prepared by Julie Rooney
Source: Dr. Curtis Kastner