Scientists may have found a way to combat the potentially deadly E. coli 0157 bacteria - by attacking it with cinnamon. Microbiologists at Kansas State University found that adding small amounts of the spice to samples of apple juice contaminated with the E. colibug killed off almost all the bacteria.
Just one teaspoon of cinnamon killed 99.5% of the bacteria after three days at room temperature. When the same amount of cinnamon was combined with either of the preservatives sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate E. coli was reduced to an undetectable level.
Professor Daniel Fung, an expert in food science at Kansas State, said: "Cinnamon contains a compound that has the ability to kill bacteria. It has natural killing power. "If cinnamon can knock out E.coli 0157:H7, one of the most virulent food-borne microorganisms that exists today, it will certainly have antimicrobial effects on other common food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter."
Most E.coli bacteria are harmless, but a strain known as E.coli 0157 causes gastroenteritis symptoms such as diarrhoea. It usually clears up after a few days, but complications that may arise include inflammation of the bowel, and anaemia. In some cases, kidney problems may arise.