Berries battle food poisoning threat

Cranberry ingredient suppliers have been handed a new way to market their products after researchers found cranberry extract may reduce the likelihood of food-borne disease.

With food poisoning a common problem in most parts of the world, and more consumers looking for natural alternatives to the chemicals that are usually added to meat to lengthen its shelf life, a solution such as this one has obvious potential. In the US alone, about 76 million cases of food-borne illness and 5,000 associated deaths occur each year.

The research, published in the Journal of Food Protection, found pathogen levels in raw meat were reduced after the application of cranberry concentrate. These included significantly reduced growth of Salmonella, E. coli and other dangerous bacteria. "The drive to discover and develop safe, effective and natural antimicrobial agents is ever increasing," said head researcher, Dr Vivian Chi Hua Wu. She added: "With numerous health benefits, cranberry's antimicrobial effect offers considerable promise as a natural and effective tool to control food-borne pathogens and reduce the incidence of food-borne illness."

This research backs a previous study published in the journal Biofactors that reported compounds in cranberries inhibit the growth of bacteria associated with food-borne illnesses. Other research has found cranberry juice reduced E. coli, Salmonella and other bacteria in unpasteurised apple cider.

Cranberries are known to have "anti-adhesion" properties that protect the body from certain harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, stomach ulcers and gum disease.

In the US, PepsiCo Inc. and Ocean Spray have formed a long-term strategic alliance under which Pepsi-Cola North America will distribute single-serve cranberry juice products in North America under the Ocean Spray name.

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