In some places in China, garlic prices rose 40 times this year.
In some places in China, garlic prices rose 40 times this year.
Garlic may significantly reduce the risk of contaminated baby formula, according to a new study.

The study showed that two compounds in garlic, diallyl sulfide and ajoene, can kill a deadly contaminant of baby formula, Cronobacter sakazakii.

“A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process,” says Xiaonan Lu, corresponding author and assistant professor of food safety engineering in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia in Canada. “They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer.”

C. sakazakii is a foodborne pathogen that is sometimes present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. C. sakazakii infection is rare, but often fatal for infants. It can poison a baby’s bloodstream and lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis. Outbreaks of C. sakazakii have occurred worldwide.

But the discovery doesn’t mean that infants will be forced to drink garlic-flavored formula. According to Lu, the garlic compounds could be used to treat 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 study was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.