Two Washington State University scientists may have found a way to protect us from E. coli. No, it’s not an app that beeps when a burger under 160 F approaches your mouth. Their findings focused on a very old, and very common, spice: cinnamon.
The study found that cinnamon oil in very low concentrations, killed the top six strains of the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E.coli), the same bacteria that sickens about 110,000 people each year. Ten drops diluted in a liter of water blasted the bacteria within 24 hours. Results of the study were published in the journal Food Control and mentioned on foodconsumer.org.
Rising health concerns about chemical additives have strengthened demand for natural food additives, the study’s co-author, Meijun Zhu, assistant professor at the W.S.U. School of Food Science, told foodconsumer.org. “Our focus is on exploring plant-derived natural food bioactive compounds as antimicrobials to control foodborne pathogens, in order to ensure safety of fresh produce,” she said. The cinnamon oil could be made into films and coatings for packaging meat and produce, or added to the washing step to eliminate microorganisms.
The cinnamon used in the study was cassia cinnamon, from Indonesia, which is stronger than the other common cinnamon variety, Ceylon cinnamon.
Another recent study found another potential power in the common kitchen spice. That research suggests that eating cinnamon may help halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease – at least in rodents.