The study from the University of British Columbia has found that the compounds, diallyl sulfide and ajoene, can significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii in the production of dry infant formula powder.
"A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process. They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer," corresponding author Xiaonan Lu from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, said.
C. sakazakii is a foodborne pathogen that is sometimes present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. C. sakazakii infection is rare, but often fatal for infants. It can poison a baby's bloodstream and lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis.
According to Lu, the garlic compounds could be used to prevent C. sakazakii contamination on food contact surfaces and in every step of food production- from processing, packaging and delivery.
Lu said that pipes used in the manufacturing of milk products are typically cleaned with chemicals like chlorine, but these garlic compounds are a natural alternative.
The study is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.