Salsa a Bacteria Stopper

Cilantro compound may protect against foodborne illness

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THURSDAY, May 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A compound in the herb cilantro, a key ingredient in salsa, may help prevent food poisoning.

The compound -- dodecenal -- kills harmful salmonella bacteria and could prove to be a safe, natural food additive effective at protecting people against foodborne illness, says a joint U.S.-Mexican study in the May 26 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

The antibacterial activity in salsa has been detected in previous research. But this is the first study to isolate a specific antibacterial compound in salsa. Both the leaves and seeds of cilantro, also called coriander, contain about the same amount of dodecenal.

The researchers found dodecenal was about twice as potent as the common medicinal antibiotic gentamicin at killing salmonella bacteria. Dodecenal is the only naturally occurring antibacterial that's more effective than gentamicin at destroying salmonella, according to the researchers.

"We were surprised that dodecenal was such a potent antibiotic," study leader and chemist Isao Kubo, of the University of California, Berkeley, said in a prepared statement.

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

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about salmonella.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, May 24, 2004

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