The study was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and identifies two compounds found in garlic, diallyl sulfide and ajoene, that appear to lower the chance of contamination by Cronobacter sakazakii in the production of dry infant formula powder.
Even though C. sakazakii infection is rare, it is often fatal in infants. The food-borne pathogen is sometimes present in dry infant formula, as well as other dry processed fortified foods. The pathogen has been implicated in cases of meningitis and bloodstream infections in infants 3-years of age and under world wide, according to a recent World Health Organization study.
The research team was headed up by Xiaonan Lu, the UBC co-author and assistant professor who is head of Land and Food Systems, a food safety engineering research lab. Lu and a team of researchers from Washington state and the UBC, used specialized scientific equipment that showed the minutest amounts of the volatile compounds found in garlic were able to kill the pathogen called C. sakazakii.
According to Lu, the garlic compounds could be used in every step of baby formula production, from the manufacturing process to packaging. Lu also pointed out that pipes used during the manufacturing process are usually cleaned out using chemicals like chlorine. He went on to say that garlic would be a “natural” alternative.