Cilantro an odd suspect in salmonella outbreak

After an apparently futile attempt to pin a salmonella outbreak on tomatoes, health officials now have expanded their vegetable probe to include jalapeño peppers and cilantro.

Cilantro is an interesting suspect when you consider that in 2004 researchers from the University of California found a compound in this vegetable to be twice as potent as a medicinal antibiotic in destroying salmonella bacteria.

The compound, dodecenal, is found in the fresh leaves and seeds of cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley. The research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, compared the effectiveness of dodecenal and the pharmaceutical antibiotic gentamicin in laboratory tests. The cilantro compound was found to be the only known naturally occurring substance more effective than gentamicin in combating salmonella.

Cilantro is commonly used as an ingredient in salsa, but is also used as a spice in oriental foods, and can be found in some fresh salad-green mixes.

Other spices and herbs may also have antibacterial effects. For example, oregano, thyme and bay also may help protect against salmonella, as well as Candida, E. coli, Staph, and even the potentially deadly Klebsiella pneumoniae.

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